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CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 



CAN WE LIMIT WAR ? 

BY 

HOFFMAN NICKERSON 




ARROWSMITH 



FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1933 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRj 
J. W. ARROWSMITH LTD., XX QUA 



DEDICATION TO HILAIRE BELLOC 

MY DEAR MASTER, 

This book is a study of the limitation of war, of war 
as an inseparable part of any social order, and of the 
relation between social and military forms. It seeks to 
answer the questions : Why has our democratic era been 
the bloodiest in history ? And why, notwithstanding 
our exhaustion, must we still fear renewed and vast 
conflicts ? 

No one who knows us both, and especially no one 
who has heard us hotly debating a thousand topics, 
from the development of the Papacy to the relative 
importance of seventeenth-century infantry and cavalry, 
will expect our judgements of men and things always 
to coincide. The following pages must stand on their 
own merits. If I have harshly criticized even the greatest 
soldiers of the nineteenth century and of 1914-18, it is 
only because I come after them ; according to the 
proverb that any pigmy, standing on the shoulders of 
a giant, may claim to be the taller. 

It is now twenty years since I first heard the great 
organ-roll of prose with which your Marie Antoinette 
opens, and since then I have never ceased to admire 
your achievements, your style, your amazing power of 
work half your productive labour would have killed 
anyone else I can think of, over a hundred books 
published in thirty years ! It is a pleasure to acknowledge 
your gift for illuminating so many varied subjects ; 
when the scholar-specialists of the next generation 
gather like vultures to pick the bones of the Whig 



6 DEDICATION TO HILAIRE BELLOC 

historians a job long overdue they will find your 
arrows deeply driven between the ribs of each carcass. 
One word more. During the late war certain men 
thought it clever to belittle your articles on German 
man-power. When it was my fortune to be assigned 
to duty with the Second Section of the American General 
Staff in France I soon discovered that your figures had 
nothing personal about them ; the public did not know 
that you were merely doing your duty as a loyal citizen 
by popularizing the calculations of both the French and 
British Intelligence Departments. Those calculation^ 
proved to be very near to reality when the full figures of 
German losses were at last arrived at, though it must be 
admitted that the Allied General Staffs leaned towards 
the optimistic side. 

HOFFMAN NICKERSON. 
October, 1933. 



PREFACE 

ALTHOUGH the world is still under the shadow of 1918, 
the intimate relation between war and our social order 
has hardly been studied. As yet we encounter half- 
truths, our ears ring with hysterical denunciations of 
armed conflict, and our flesh is made to creep with 
blood-curdling prophecies of the next outbreak. We are 
half-blinded in a snowstorm of unreal, paper plans for 
abolishing armed strife altogether. Worse still, we meet 
with deliberate lies, such as the statement that the new 
weapons must make the next war more barbarous and 
destructive than the last, or that democracies are 
peaceful. As against all these, this book seeks to estimate 
the future of war in terms of the social forces recently 
active, together with military methods recent and 
proposed, putting events into perspective by comparing 
our own with other centuries. 

Its thesis is that war the use of organized force 
between human groups is inevitable because men are 
imperfect, because any social order demands armed 
police-power ; and finally, because an individual or group 
determined to attack another can be restrained only by 
superior force. War cannot be intelligently considered 
apart from peace, for the quarrels, competitions and 
rivalries of peace are its source, and a better peace is 
its object ; both peace and war are only forms of political 
intercourse between groups. Although force can never 
be abolished, on the other hand war has always been 
limited morally, politically, economically and technically, 
so that when military writers speak of " unlimited " 



8 PREFACE 

war they are merely using a short-hand phrase for its 
imperfectly limited forms. The degree of limitation has 
risen and fallen throughout long cycles of time ; a 
civilization full of discontent will have a high potential 
of conflict, one which enjoys moral unity will have a low 
potential. The amount of actual war will depend upon 
the potential plus the time and effort required to achieve 
a true decision, either by reconciliation of the defeated 
group or by its destruction either actual or political. 
An age afflicted like our own suffers chiefly from ideals 
which divide men instead of reconciling them, secondly 
from incompetent military methods ; happily other 
ideals and methods are beginning to appear, and upon 
them depends the hope for limiting war. If we can 
establish a true moral unity, backed by effective police 
forces, we shall succeed ; if we cannot do so we shall 
fail leaving the problem to the diminished remnant of 
our descendants. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE 7 

PART I 
WAR AND THE SOCIAL ORDER 

CHAPTER 

I. THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 13 

II. THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 32 

III. THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 48 

PART II 
THE CHRISTIAN CYCLE OF WAR 

IV. THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 73 
V. THE WARS OF RELIGION 92 

VI. THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION 99 

VII. DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE in 

PART III 
SINCE igi8 

VIII. NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH- CENTURY 

DISARMAMENT 131 

IX. THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 148 

X. DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 161 

XI. WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION ? 190 

PART IV 
/CONCLUSION 

XII. TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 215 

XIII. PEACE AND^ORDER 239 

9 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

MUCH of the following material has been printed in the 
American Mercury, Army Ordnance, the New York Times, 
and the Harvard A dvocate, to the Editors of which my thanks 
are due. * 

In the teeth of the romantic-naturalist affectation of 
the " original genius " who owes nothing to anyone, it is 
particularly pleasant to follow the courteous and honest 
custom of citing those from whom one has learned. Foremost 
among these is Major-General J. F. C. Fuller, of the British 
Army. In France General Arthur Boucher, whose Lois 
Eternelles de la Guerre contrasts modern errors with classical 
experience, dealing harshly with the conscript hordes of 
1914 and the shortcomings of Neo-Napoleonic strategy. 
The Italian historian Ferrero has given us La Fin des 
Aventures as well as several all too brief studies of the 
transformations of war from the seventeenth century until 
to-day. Much light is thrown on the ancient cycle of war 
by Professor Toynbee's article on " History" in The Legacy 
of Greece, and the French Admiral Castex in his Theories 
Stratdgiques has given us the sanest and most lucid discussion 
of air-warfare yet seen by the present writer. 



PART I 
WAR AND THE SOCIAL ORDER 



CAN WE LIMIT WAR ? 

CHAPTER I 

THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 

13ATTLES are brutal and bloody. War is (instructive. 
In itself, and if we take the world as a whole, it does 
not pay. Wars give occasion to many sins and crimes 
which would not otherwise have been committed. Not 
a few religious teachers have held all war to be sinful, 
and certainly many wars have been wickedly declared 
and still more wickedly waged. Ever since the sixteenth 
and especially since the middle eighteenth century men 
have fought more and more for merely " national 
interests/* unjustifiable by any common morality. Mean- 
while, certain developments throughout the civilized 
world have helped to increase the strain of war upon 
society. Some might add that the degeneracy of the 
human intelligence through the democratic theory has also 
contributed to this result. At all events, the crescendo 
of strain reached such a point in the recent war against 
Germany that in 1917 one whole province of Christendom, 
Russia, collapsed, and most of the belligerents were 
threatened with a like disaster. Everywhere to-day we 
hear of efforts to abolish war altogether. 

Is this possible ? No, it is an unreal folly. Indeed, 
its unreality is such that belief in it may well recoil upon 
its authors and upon all of us if we permit it to continue. 
Wars will continue as long as man is man. 

To say this is by no means to condemn efforts to 
limit war, to avoid or reduce causes for conflict, and to 

13 



14 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

persuade people to peaceable courses. Obviously such 
efforts are both wise and timely. Only when it is 
proposed not merely to limit, diminish, or postpone 
wars, but to abolish them altogether, does the unreality 
and therefore the danger begin. 

The unreality of pacifism does not stand alone ; 
it is part of a general worship or cult of unreality to be 
seen all around us. To expect a permanently war-less 
world is no sillier than to hope for religion without 
authority, civilization without inequality, beautiful art 
without culture and tradition, good manners withoftt 
tedious training, society without conventions, and so on, 
to weariness. An " Anatomy of Modernism " is much 
needed to trace the connection between the various 
kinds of contemporary monkey chatter. 

Turning now to the various arguments against war ; 
if battles are bloody so are slaughter-houses and surgical 
operating-rooms. That surgery or the Chicago stock- 
yards are in themselves attractive to sensitive people 
no one will maintain ; the argument in their favour is 
that they serve good and useful purposes which outweigh 
the unattractiveness of the means used. 

The term brutal is hard to define. It is sometimes 
used of anything the user does not like ; in Mexico a 
slight and unintentional breach of courtesy may .be 
called a brutalidad. If used accurately, it would seem 
to cover everything we share with the brutes, the 
physical life, primitive emotions, etc. But in this sense 
it is not condemnatory ; to tell a man that he is as 
brutal as a good dog is not a formidable insult. To 
condemn physical things in themselves is to land plump 
in the detestable error known to theologians as the 
Manichean heresy, which involves the condemnation of 
all human life on this earth. Logically, it leads to 
suicide, as actually practised by the Albigensians, a 
medieval sect once studied and described by the present 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 15 

writer at some length. Again, if we condemn any act 
performed in a state of violent emotion, temporarily 
blotting out much of the contemplative or reasoning 
faculty, then we must condemn not only combat, but also 
the act of generation to which we owe our existence. 

Sometimes the term brutality is used to express 
dislike of the soldier as a type. Traders and men 
dedicated to gain value him only as a policeman or 
servant to protect them ; when he achieves power he 
hinders their operations. The intolerant cult of honour 
with which he seeks to fortify the courage necessary to 
his trade fosters a temper alien to that of bargaining. 
Thus, written as it was from the mercantile atmosphere 
of nineteenth-century Boston, Motley's Rise of the 
Dutch Republic delights in the final triumph of the 
Dutch traders over the Spanish soldiers. The astonishing 
victories won again and again by the handful of Spaniards 
against overwhelming numbers of Dutch leave him cold ! 
As the business man has more and more come to dominate 
society, his rise has perhaps caused, and certainly been 
followed by, that of the subversive or "social revolu- 
tionary," who is essentially a barbarian desirous ol 
enjoying the fruits of civilization without submitting to 
the discipline all civilization must impose. Therefore 
he too dislikes soldiers because they police society 
and for that matter he also dislikes priests (or, if you 
prefer, " ministers of religion ") because they maintain 
the moral order on which physical order must repose. 
Thus, when business men or subversives speak against 
soldiership it is well to remember that they may be moved 
by envy of men better than themselves. 

The argument that war is destructive, that it doesn't 
pay, is not always true, and would not be conclusive if it 
were. Few sports or pleasures can be said to "pay" 
those who indulge in them. Nor do all virtuous actions. 
A man who did only that which he thought would pay 



l6 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

him would be an unthinkable monster. Even he who 
approaches this goal is certainly a bore and often a 
scoundrel. Answering H. G. Wells, Chesterton once 
remarked that if it were true that war did not pay, then 
that would be the only certainly good thing about it. 
In any event, many wars have paid and will, doubtless, 
continue to do so. Take, for instance, wars between 
civilized men and barbarians ; the latter are usually 
beaten, and when civilized men afterwards occupy and 
organize formerly barbaric countries these become 
vastly more productive than before. For instance, will 
anyone say that the destruction of life and property in 
the Indian wars of the United States has not been many 
thousandfold repaid by the development of what is 
now our own territory ? Between civilized men, too, 
wars have certainly seemed to pay. The Prussian wars 
of 1864, 1866, and 1870-71, if, indeed, they did not 
themselves enrich Prussia and the countries finally 
included in the Reich, certainly did not prevent the 
rapid enrichment of the districts we have come to call 
Germany. The writer has evfcn heard it darkly hinted 
that the war of 1914-18 did not completely impoverish 
the United States. 

The most sweeping form of religious and moral 
argument against war is that the use of force is sinful 
in itself. Some Oriental sects are said to refuse to kill 
any living creature, however harmful or annoying, still 
less for food. The Christian tradition of the Western 
world has never gone as far as that. Certain sayings 
of our Lord, as reported in the Gospels, are often quoted 
by pacifists : " . . . Resist not evil," " Turn the other 
cheek," " Love your enemies . . . ," " All that take the 
sword shall perish by the sword." St. Thomas Aquinas 
comments that while these precepts should be borne in 
mind, nevertheless it is sometimes necessary to act 
otherwise for the common good or for the good of those 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 17 

against whom one fights, since nothing is more hopeless 
than the happiness of unpunished and triumphant 
sinners. He then very sensibly argues that the magistrates 
of a community cannot be said to "take" the sword, 
since they have it by nature as a part of their office of 
securing the public peace and safety. Even rebellion, 
he continues, may be justified by tyranny ; the sin of 
it is upon the unjust ruler, not upon the rebels. Further, 
there are other texts of a very different sort, such as : 
" I came not to bring peace, but a sword." We are told 
thdt our Lord drove the money-changers from the 
temple with a whip. 

Although there was much pacifist opinion in the 
early Church, one looks in vain for any defined dogma 
on the subject. Pacifism has often cropped out here and 
there in Christendom. It has even appeared in the 
Roman obedience ; recently a certain Father Stratmann, 
Monk of the Dominican Order, published a book 
advocating the condemnation by the Pope of all wars. 
Since that would imply the condemnation of the many 
previous popes who incited to war and even in their 
capacity as temporal princes waged it themselves, we 
may safely assume that nothing of the sort will be done. 
In her Sixteenth Century Articles of Religion the Church 
of England laid down that "it is lawful for Christian 
men, at the command of the magistrate, to wear weapons, 
and serve in the wars." Of all Christian bodies only 
a few sects local and all but one obscure are 
pacifist. 

The one notable group of pacifist Christians is the 
Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers. First 
of all, let it be noted that they are not seldom of a 
commercialist, acquisitive type. If the writer correctly 
understands their doctrine, their objection to war is not 
the absolute pacifism which holds any use of force 
immoral ; when they controlled Pennsylvania they had 



l8 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

constables, although no organized militia. Their theory 
is simply that since war is both the effect and cause of 
evil, ambition, pride, greed and hatred, it is, therefore, 
contrary to the mind of Christ, and not to be indulged in 
for any cause however good. 

To do them justice, they do not primarily object to 
the risks of war. During the late unpleasantness, when 
Quaker opinion in England decided mine-sweeping to be 
a form of life-saving, young male Quakers although 
exempt by law from all military service volunteered 
and vigorously engaged in that dangerous and tin- 
comfortable duty. Even as to actual combatant service 
some Quakers have wavered. During the American 
Civil War not a few of them are said to have been 
sufficiently impressed with the holiness of negro 
emancipation as to fight for it, especially against Lee's 
invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863. In China our Quaker 
President, Hoover, once had much reason for gratitude 
to the Cossacks and other European troops who defended 
his wife and himself from the none too amiable treatment 
the Boxers were giving such Europeans as they could 
catch, and to date there seems to have been no attempt 
to put him out of Meeting for recommending considerable 
naval and military expenditures. 

Having thus briefly reviewed the argument from 
sensibility, based upon the ugliness of war, the economic 
argument based upon its wastefulness, and the religio- 
moral argument based upon its alleged sinfulness, let 
us now consider what may be called the historical 
argument, based chiefly on an interpretation of the 
admitted facts of the recent war against Germany. 

Although akin to the economic argument, the 
historical argument is not identical with it. It is, 
briefly, that the strain of the last war was such that 
its repetition would endanger the political and economic 
structure of the whole civilized world, with painful 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR ig 

consequences to practically everyone. Furthermore, it 
is pointed out that the existing instruments of destruction 
are already more efficient than those used in 1918. All 
of which is true. It is only when these undoubted truths 
are stretched to justify the claim that all warfare can 
and should be abolished that one is compelled to dissent. 

Another and lesser form of the historical argument 
is that individual duelling, once a recognized institution, 
is now abolished. This can be countered with the fact 
that duelling has been abolished only over a part of the 
world, long and securely abolished only in England and 
in parts of the United States. To say that it has every- 
where disappeared is mere provincial ignorance. Also 
it may be questioned whether the limited extent to which 
it has been abolished has been an unmixed gain. While 
the abolition has certainly lowered the general standard 
of good manners (one remembers Owen Wister's cowboy 
in The Virginian and his " When you call me that, 
smile"), it has not certainly raised the standard of 
public morals, because gunmen find an enlarged field 
of operations when no other considerable number of 
citizens go armed and pride themselves on a readiness 
to engage in combat. If duelling was indeed murder, 
then it was obviously murder of a far less despicable sort 
than that practised wholesale to-day. 

The permanent human fact which makes an endlessly 
unbroken peace impossible is that large sections of the 
human race have never been, are not now, and presumably 
never will be, convinced that war is an unmixed evil. 
On the contrary, many have always insisted, and do 
insist, on a certain amount of it as a positive good. The 
most absolute of such statements are those of Nietzsche 
who, if impotent as a system -builder, was nevertheless 
a man whose mind worked very vividly in flashes. 
Nietzsche says : " They have said unto you that a good 
cause makes any war good ; but I say unto you that a 



2O CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

good war makes any cause good." And again : " Let 
man be formed for war and women for the recreation of 
the warrior, everything else is foolishness." From 
Homer down those sad dogs the poets have obstinately 
persisted in glorifying warriors, and Homer added : 

" Oh, my friend, if indeed, but once this battle avoided, 

We were forever to live without growing old and immortal, 
Neither would I myself go forth to fight with the foremost, 
Nor would I urge thee on to enter the glorious battle, 
But for a thousand fates of death stand close to us always 
Let us go forward ..." 

An Elizabethan I think it may have been one 
William Shakespeare, an author of some reputation in 
the pre-Shavian era, at any rate an Elizabethan calls 
war the 

" . . . great corrector of enormous times . . . 
That cures the earth of the pleurisy of people." 

Nor is this opinion confined to versifying fellows and 
others who have not smelt powder. Quite the contrary. 
One of the kindliest men the writer ever knew, Mike 
Donovan, the pugilist, who had served in the Civil War, 
used to be fond of saying : " Ah, what's the good of 
a man if he won't fight ? " During the same war 
to be exact, on the morning of Fredericksburg a 
certain Virginian gentleman, one Robert E. Lee, also a 
conspicuously kindly man, is reported to have said : 
" Longstreet, it is well jbhat war is so terrible if it were 
not, we would grow too fond of it ! " 

When Europe mobilized in 1914 every people did so 
with an exaltation like that of some supreme religious 
service. The soldiers themselves went off singing and 
shouting. Talented Jews, like Maurice Samuel, the 
author of You Gentiles, looking on with the detachment 
of that ancient people, found themselves bemused and 
bewildered. The resulting war proved exceptionally 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 21 

disagreeable, even among wars, and yet its opening 
delight in battle was not lost by all the participants. 
A professional kicker like Shaw notes with a sour honesty 
that not a few of his war-hating young friends, described 
by him as " brilliant " and " creative," having volunteered, 
were rapidly promoted, and found themselves actually 
becoming artists in war, with a growing relish for it. 

The present writer, sitting a few years ago in a group 
of half a dozen peaceable New Yorkers, nearly all of 
whom had been in action, heard the question raised : 
" If you could live over again one year of your life, 
which would it be ? " The unanimous answer was : 
" Nineteen-eighteen ! " 

Apparently the explanation is that everyone likes 
excitement. The amount emotionally appetizing to each 
individual varies with age, sex, state of health and other 
characteristics, but the appetite is always there. Henry 
Adams remarked in Mont St. Michel and Ch&rtres that 
the wealthy laymen of the eleventh century, fighting 
men all, seem to have troubled about pain and death 
about as much as healthy bears do in the mountains. 
Most young men are not only willing, but eager, to 
purchase excitement at the cost of physical risk, often a 
high degree of risk. War supplies not only excitement, 
but also the great boon of comradeship, combined with 
greater variety than that usually accompanying the 
comradeship of a monastery or the forecastle of a 
ship. If the risk is so high thatone's chances of life are 
obviously slim, then, of course, there is no fun in the 
proceedings. In such cases man must be nerved up by 
other motives, of which more anon. 

Further, people almost cease to notice accustomed 
dangers. In our automobile-infested streets we are an 
inch or so from death every day of our lives. How many 
of us care ? Any city can show elderly women skipping 
like mountain goats from before these destroyers with 



22 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

the same bored adaptability probably displayed by their 
remote ancestresses in fleeing from the sabre-toothed 
tiger. And why ? To save half a minute's time. So 
slight a thing is enough to persuade people into dangers 
that have become familiar. 

Besides danger, war has the further drawback of 
hardship, physical discomfort, which men have always 
found harder to bear than the chance of wounds or 
violent death. This point has not gone unnoticed. If 
the present age will pardon another Shakespearean 
quotation, when the poet Octavius praises Antony's 
soldiership, he speaks not of his battles, but of his 
endurance of hardship : 

" . . . at thy heel 

Did famine follow ; whom thou f ought 'st against 
Though daintily brought up, with patience more 
Than savages could suffer . . . 

On the Alps 

It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh 
Which some did die to look on ; and all this . . . 
Was borne so like a soldier that thy cheek 
So much as lank'd not . . ." 

One of Washington's papers expresses the same thought 
that endurance of hardship, rather than danger, is the 
chief test of a soldier. 

That unmilitary populations are deterred from 
soldiering more through shrinking from discomfort than 
through fear of danger is proved by an amusing historical 
example. The later Roman Empire had many barbarian 
troops. They were cheaper to hire than civilized men ; 
they were accustomed to roughing it without baggage 
and were, therefore, more mobile. Their primitive cult 
of personal loyalty made them more faithful than 
provincials in the continental civil wars. Thus in A.D. 400 
a large part of the garrison of Constantinople was 
recruited from the little-known tribes called Goths, who 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 23 

were Arian in religion, whereas the inhabitants of the 
imperial city were zealous orthodox Catholics. Therefore 
the populace, who would not have dreamed of enlisting 
to face the hardships of campaigning, fell upon the 
wretched barbarians in anger at the attempted murder 
of an old woman by a Gothic soldier, and massacred 
some seven thousand of them. 

Settled populations, and especially city populations, 
accustomed to abundant shelter, recoil from discomforts 
which would be second nature to pioneers or to more 
pfimitive folk. Thus in winter the A.E.F. used to jest 
that it was no wonder that the French had fought 
so many wars, for their houses were so cold and short of 
plumbing that they suffered little out of the ordinary 
when they took the field. And yet those same comfort- 
loving Americans would charge recklessly again and 
again against intact German machine-guns, with a dash 
of which four years of trench fighting had robbed the 
nineteen-eighteen French. Men who walked over our 
fresh battle-fields around Chateau-Thierry say they 
found three rows of American dead in front of most 
German machine-guns ; the survivors of the third rush 
had seldom failed to get the gunner. 

When danger can be had without previous discomfort, 
for instance, in driving a car faster than one should, many 
women, and especially young women, enjoy it as do 
young men. Some Frenchman is, indeed, reported to have 
said : " You shall be young as long as you love the risk 
of death." Although the writer has quoted in another 
place the bit of Hergesheimer's admirable Quiet Cities 
that follows, nevertheless it shall again be quoted here, 
for it so aptly meets the point. 

" I found myself, lately, in a small and very swift 
automobile at night ; ... the charming young person 
driving was in her appropriate and most relieving element. 
She drove inattentively, with one knee swinging over the 



24 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

other, and a cigarette in an often otherwise unengaged 
hand. I said at last resentfully that a needless risk was 
mere folly and she smiled at me with a candid charm. 
You couldn't, she pointed out, live for ever." 
All of which brings us back again to Homer. 
As to women in general, you will hear it said that 
many of them are pacifists without use for soldiers and 
soldiering, per contra devoutly hoping that there will 
never be another war. Plenty of women say so. But 
in that case how about the notorious and well-nigh 
universal female admiration for the wearers of uniformi ? 
In war-time can anyone remember an occasion when 
any woman paid the slightest attention to a male in 
civilian clothes when she might have been talking to one 
" garbed in the horrid livery of war " ? If so, the thing 
was a nine days' wonder, a miracle of staggering 
proportions and, therefore, not to be believed except on 
the strongest evidence. 

But what about the timid youth, and the comfort- 
able middle-aged man represented by Hergesheimer in 
the passage above ? Certainly no one in their senses 
will maintain that all men have an equal appetite for 
excitement via danger. And that the blood cools as we 
grow older few will deny. But can the most timid man 
honestly say that he dislikes even the suggestion of risk ? 
He may, of course, get his enjoyment at second hand by 
contemplating the perils and gallantry of others. Even 
after this pale and distant fashion, however, his enjoyment 
shows a spark of the old fire smouldering within him. 

All told, therefore, it is obvious truth that great 
masses of people refuse to think war altogether evil. 

But the abolitionist must contend not only that 
mankind believes or will believe war an unmixed evil ; 
he must also maintain that they can be made to believe 
it the greatest of evils. He must say either that human 
groups already are or will become collectively so amiable 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 25 

and righteous that they will never wrong other groups, 
or else he must say that to endure no matter what 
collective wrong will seem better than to resist in arms. 
In its crudest form this argument was often put in the 
form of a war-time question : Would you stand calmly 
by while another man raped your sister ? 

The writer well knows that even so personal a 
proposition might admit certain shadings. For instance, 
one might see that the man who proposed to wrong one's 
sister was far bigger and better armed than oneself. 
Then the only chance of success would be in case he was 
for the moment so occupied with the lady that one might 
overcome him by surprise in a sudden and unexpected 
attack. Failing this, some might argue that an attempted 
relief of the sister would not save her, and would merely 
involve the would-be rescuer in evils he might otherwise 
escape. The trouble with such reasoning would be that 
most men might be just a little ashamed of it later. 

If anyone says that secular virtues such as courage 
have no standing before the Christian virtue of charity 
or love, let him be answered in the words of Boswell's 
Dr. Johnson : " Courage, sir, is not, strictly speaking, a 
Christian virtue, but without it a man is in danger of 
losing all the others." And again, in Cardinal Mercier's 
remark when the Germans invaded Belgium, that charity 
has greater scope after justice has been done than 
before. 

The mention of Mercier and Belgium puts the matter 
on a political footing, so that personal arguments, such 
as the endangered sister, no longer fully apply. If 
resistance is hopeless, then in the immediate military 
sense it may be permissible to. yield unless the time 
gained by unsuccessful resistance is of value. But even 
if one cannot make the enemy lose valuable time, still 
the resistance may be morally of enormous significance. 
Thus on i7th December, 1688, James II of England, 



26 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

himself a soldier and believing firmly in his own right, 
refused to let his guards fire on overwhelming Dutch 
numbers come to assault his palace. And yet, as his 
biographer, Belloc, observes, so honourable an incident 
might have proved symbolic and thus have influenced 
the future. Certainly in 1914 the resistance of 
Belgium, even though it delayed the first German rush 
little if at all, had great symbolic effect. 

However, to refute the absolute pacifist argument, 
we have no need of such desperate examples. The more 
usual case is that of a state which sees some other state 
threatening its citizens with what seems intolerable 
wrong, for instance with armed invasion looking towards 
wholesale robbery. The first state can, if it choose, 
prevent this by armed resistance, but in no other way. 
Will either the spiritual condition of its own citizens or 
of those of the invading state be improved by passiveness 
on the part of the invaded ? It seems difficult to 
answer yes. 

The universal judgement of mankind is against the 
proposition that war, even if an evil, is the greatest of 
evils. Only the constant repetition of such nonsense 
makes refutation worth while. Nor are the steps in the 
use of organized force by a human community difficult 
to trace. Obviously if all men always perfectly obeyed 
the same moral code then crimes would not be committed 
nor disputes arise. Unfortunately, moral codes differ, 
crimes are committed and disputes do arise. From 
immemorial antiquity all communities have always tried 
to discourage crime by the use of force that is by police. 
We have seen that even the early Quakers in Pennsylvania 
found they had to have constables. When total dis- 
armament is proposed the immortal French reply is 
always ready : " Que Messieurs les assassins commencent " 
" let the gentlemen-gunmen begin." 

If it be objected that war is different from policing, 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 27 

that amounts to saying that a community has the right 
to protect itself against individual criminals, but not 
against numbers, which is absurd. Superficially police- 
men and soldiers seem different: policemen exist to 
preserve civic order, whereas we think of soldiers as 
fighting against other countries. But at bottom the 
function of both is the same, both are armed to maintain 
the authority of government. The invasion of many 
a city by a foreign army has resulted in less disorder than 
that which took place in the Boston of 1919 after the 
police walked out and before the militia came in ; crowds 
of respectable-looking people plundered the shops right 
and left ; some sat on the curb -stones in front of shoe 
stores calmly trying on one pair of stolen shoes after 
another until they found a pair that fitted them. Who 
can say when rioting becomes civil war ? Just when 
did the British police operation of 1768-75 against the 
Colonies turn into war ? In April of 1775 at Lexington 
and Concord ? In June at Bunker Hill ? Or in March 
of 1776 when Boston was evacuated and a strategic re- 
conquest was attempted from New York ? If any valid 
distinction between war and police work has ever been 
drawn, then the writer after diligent search has failed 
to find it. 

If we say that defensive war is not sinful but aggressive 
war is, then we are faced with the difficulty of defining 
aggression. The Carnegie Foundation for International 
Peace has recently put out a pamphlet on the matter 
which is a masterpiece of confusion and futility. In it 
a French international lawyer is quoted as saying in 
despair: "One must, all the same, leave words their 
sense." To exaggerate such difficulties of definition is 
to aid the sham philosophers who try to bewilder us 
with riddling questions instead of working on at least 
a few answers. In most cases it is reasonably clear who 
is the aggressor. The writer merely notes that so far 



28 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

no workable rule-of-thumb definition of aggression has 
been framed. And even if such a rule could be framed, 
it would remain true that if force be permissible at all, 
then action perfectly aggressive in form must sometimes 
be justly taken when the intention is to promote some 
object admitted to be good, or to put down serious evils. 

Thus the matter glides from the sphere of law into 
that of equity or morals, thereby approaching the still 
more difficult sphere of religion. And since nationalism 
is chief among contemporary religions, with communisip 
looming in the offing, no tribunal or central body clothed 
with moral that is religious or quasi-religious authority 
superior to patriotism seems likely soon to appear. Nor 
can such authority be manufactured to order. As 
Talleyrand remarked to Robespierre over the failure of 
the latter's highly liberal and rational new religion : 
"Just work some miracles, that is if you can possibly 
manage it. Then get yourself crucified and rise again 
on the third day and your success will be assured." 
Lacking moral authority, our World Courts or Leagues 
of Nations must either do nothing or impose their 
decisions upon patriots or worshippers of proletarian 
humanity by force which is not exactly a peaceful 
solution. 

At this point someone may object : Granted that by 
no means all mankind will agree that war in itself is 
altogether evil, and granted further that it is certainly 
not the greatest of evils, even so, is not the pacifist 
delusion both amiable and harmless ? 

No, reader, it is not. It is an acid jest of Irving 
Babbitt's in his Democracy and Leadership that " one 
might without being too fanciful establish a sort of 
synchronism between the prevalence of pacifistic schemes 
and the actual outbreak of war. The propaganda of the 
Abb6 de Saint-Pierre was followed by the wars of 
Frederick the Great. The humanitarian movement of 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 2Q 

the end of the eighteenth century, which found expression 
in Kant's treatise on Perpetual Peace, was followed and 
attended by twenty years of the. bloodiest fighting the 
world has ever known. The pacifist agitation of the 
early twentieth century, that found outer expression in 
the Peace Palace at the Hague, was succeeded by battle- 
lines hundreds of miles long." To-day, with the dead 
of 1918 barely twelve years in their graves, with Kellogg 
Pacts and with pacifist novels on the horrors of war 
high on the list of best sellers, the temper of Europe 
seems not ideally peaceful. Certainly most European 
nations are armed to the teeth. And of those compara- 
tively disarmed most are so by compulsion which they 
would prefer to escape. 



Not only man but all living things contend after 
their fashion. In thick woods one tree kills another by 
growing above it and so cutting it off from light and 
sunshine. Other plants are defensively armed, such as 
the thorn-bearers or the poison ivy. A few actually 
entrap and kill insects. All animals must find and 
seize food, if necessary disputing it with others, and 
must get the better of their enemies ; most highly- 
organized species are continually using or threatening to 
use force. Fuller has noted that even herb-eating animals 
attack each other " economically," driving each other out 
of desirable pasture-lands. Males of many sorts fight for 
possession of the females. Still others, like the game-cock, 
the African buffalo and the domestic bull fight constantly 
for the mere love of fighting. Most sea creatures and 
many birds, together with the flesh-eating land animals, 
must live by killing. Man himself lives only by taking 
the lives of animals or of plants ; even a man who 
deliberately starves himself to death may be said to 
practise a certain cannibalism, for from the time he 



30 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

stops eating until he dies he is consuming his own tissues. 
So one of the greatest early Greek thinkers, Heraclitus, 
observing only the external world and neglecting both 
the pure intellect and the religious instinct in man, 
said : " War is father and king of all, some he made 
gods and some men, some slaves and some free." 



There seems no more reason for believing that man 
will ever lose the fighting instinct than that he will lose 
any other basic instinct. His desire to live and therefoVe 
to eat, drink and beget children, is no more and no less 
firmly rooted than the desire to resist and at need to 
destroy other lives which threaten his. Not only is the 
fighting instinct permanent ; the causes which provoke it 
are equally permanent and unchangeable. Our world 
has no record of a time when men did not quarrel over 
food and women, and no prospect of a race so regenerate 
that all would share their last crust with any chance 
comer. Nor can we imagine women who would not be 
pleased to see men contending in one form or another 
for their possession or protection. When boys cease to 
boast and tussle nien will cease to contend for power 
and for riches as a form of power. So with religious 
and moral differences : Christendom shows few signs of 
peaceably accepting polygamy or the new religion of 
communism. Further still, many peoples have made 
religious practices of human sacrifice or cannibalism ; 
when these are no Jonger forcibly resisted the end of 
religious wars may be nearer. Even then there would 
remain the possibility of sects like the medieval 
Assassins or the Thugs of modern India, who make a 
religious cult of murder ; if one agreed to tolerate them, 
why should they not continue to war against the rest 
of mankind ? If the reader thinks these suggestions mere 
clowning, let him remember that human sacrifice, 



THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR 3! 

cannibalism, the Assassins and the Thugs are matters 
of sober history. If anyone says they will never return, 
so a Russian of 1916, reading of former Communist 
massacres, say at Munster in sixteenth-century Germany, 
might have said that such things would never be again. 
To insist that war of some sort is sooner or later 
inevitable is by no means to say that the world will soon 
set about repeating 1914-18. The experience of the race 
proves that war is always limited in various ways. 
Often the cause of some threatening conflict can be 
removed. Within reason something can be done to 
spread peaceable habits of mind. Although the im- 
perfections of individuals and societies make a certain 
amount of quarrelling certain, the question is " How 
much ? " Ctoly when sensible efforts to decrease the 
quantity and destructiveness of war become mixed with 
the lie of absolute pacifism does danger appear, because 
it is always dangerous to believe a lie. 



CHAPTER II 

THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 

IF enlarged for greater clearness at the expense of 
brevity, the title of this book should read, " Can V^e 
Limit War Strictly^? " for although war is inevitable, it 
is always more or less limited, because the forces which 
beget and nourish it the moral, political, economic, and 
technical are themselves limited. 

This truth is, indeed, contrary to first impressions. 
Snap judgement on proposals for limiting war is likely to 
follow that of the abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, 
on the measures proposed a century ago for gradually 
freeing the slaves : " Say to a man whose house is burning 
that he must sound a moderate alarm. Say to a man that 
he shall tear his wife from the hands of thieves with 
moderation. Say to the mother that she shall gradually 
pull her child out of the fire into which it has fallen." 
Moreover, " absolute " war has been taught by most 
military writers for over a century, and it seems rash to 
oppose the long list of authorities beginning with 
Clausewitz and ending with Foch. Organized violence 
means death, and death is an absolute without shading 
or relativity. 

But has war ever been completely unlimited ? If so, 
history would record the extermination of considerable 
human groups, as wolves have been exterminated over 
large areas. In fact, it seems to contain not a single 
instance. If one could be found it would seem inhuman 
in the truest sense that is, contrary to the whole nature 
of man. At least the women of the defeated side are 

32 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 33 

assets too valuable to be destroyed by the most ferocious 
conqueror; they are valuable for their labour, their 
reproductive power, and usually through sentiment and 
natural affection. In the vast literature of hatred the 
writer can remember only one recorded approval of child 
killing : in the one hundred and thirty-seventh psalm 
the Jewish poet of vengeance says of the daughter of 
Babylon : " Blessed shall he be that taketh thy children 
and throweth them against the stones." The Prophet 
Samuel did, indeed, command King Saul and the 
Israelites, in reprisal for an Amalekite ambush of the 
Jewish trek from Egypt to Palestine, to " go and smite 
Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare 
them not ; but slay both man and woman, infant and 
suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass," and the Jews are 
said to have obeyed, except that they took the Amalekite 
king alive and saved certain live stock for sacrifice, 
whereat Samuel murdered the prisoner in cold blood and 
afterwards deposed Saul (i Samuel xv.). But even 
between bodies of armed men the extermination of 
either side is exceptional ; notwithstanding the many 
instances of prisoner-killing, mercy is usually shown to 
those who surrender. Battles between undisciplined men 
not on fire for some cause or other are hardly more than 
cat-fights much cry, a very little wool, and a total 
absence of corpses. In every war certain moral restraints 
are observed ; for instance, in 1914-18 no country, 
however hard up for meat and fats, either ate its prisoners 
or boiled them for explosives. The story that the Germans 
were boiling down corpses for fat seemed to have arisen 
because during an allied advance the heads of two German 
cooks who had been stirring a large cauldron of stew were 
taken off by a shell and landed in the pot where they were 
afterwards found along with the other ingredients. 

Accordingly the acts of organized violence known as 
wars are always limited by human nature with its 



34 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

indestructible minimum of moral restraint. They are 
limited politically because the object of all wars is a 
better peace, economically by the resources on which 
the community can draw, technically by the extent of 
its peace-time knowledge of and preparation for war and 
by the degree in which it can and will transform itself 
during the struggle. 

At the other end of the scale we saw in the first 
chapter that no society can completely lay aside arms. 
No matter how peaceable and well agreed among 
themselves almost all its members may be, they niust 
have armed police to discourage possible thieves, 
murderers and rioters. And since communities and their 
governments cannot reach ideal purity and saintliness 
any more than the individuals which compose them, 
there will always be a minimum of warfare, some of it 
just and some unjust in motive, some for material wealth 
and some through conflicts of moral and religious passion. 
Accordingly the practical problem is not that of abolishing 
war, which is impossible, but that of keeping its 
destructive effects within bounds. 

***** 

Let us briefly examine each of the war-making and 
war-limiting forces. Of the four the moral is chief. If 
anyone doubts its supremacy, let him ask himself whether 
the Crusades would have been undertaken by a pagan 
society. Put as high as you like the commercial interest 
of the sea-going Italian republics and the ambition of 
princes to rule Eastern lands, still the Crusaders fought 
to recover the tomb of our Lord from unbelievers. To 
the Middle Ages that was a "moral issue." We may 
contrast their time with our own, which saw hardly a 
man in Christendom volunteer to fight the Bolshevik' 
oppressors of the Russian Church. Great as was the 
exhaustion of 1919, it does not fully explain so striking 
a moral change. Again, a medieval would have been 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 35 

amazed to see the religion of nationalism inspire millions 
to accept the sacrifices and sufferings of our Great War. 
The consent of whole populations to be drafted and held 
in service under siege conditions, not to speak of the 
unquestioned payment of taxes on such a scale, would 
have seemed to him out of nature. 

Although the moral factor in war begins with the 
combative instinct, the inborn love of danger and risk, 
in practically all men this instinct is soon satisfied. 
Aidant du Picq, whose monumental Etude sur le 
Combat is the point of departure of the present-day 
French cult of morale, begins : " Man fights not for the 
sake of the struggle but for victory. He does all he can 
to do away with the first and assure the second." The 
passage continues by showing that the tactics of savages 
are those of ambush and surprise ; the natural man seeks 
not a stand-up fight against an opponent but a victim 
who can be assassinated. Since this is so, real fighting 
demands some real loyalty in the fighters. Their 
effectiveness may be increased by armament and training, 
but without loyalty on which to build little more than a 
cat-fight will result. Thus hired soldiers interested only 
in their pay are usually worthless ; the classic instance 
is that of the Renaissance Italian mercenaries so justly 
scorned by Machiavelli for fighting battles against each 
other without a single man killed. Loyalty, however, 
takes many forms. It may be a strong interest in a 
particular quarrel, or enthusiasm for an individual 
leader. It may be that little patriotism of a military 
unit within itself which the French call esprit de corps 
" The Old Guard dies but never surrenders," or the 
Tenth Legion, or the British Grenadiers. It was 
astonishing how quickly divisional spirit grew in the 
A.E.F., beginning, of course, with such crack divisions as 
the First and Second. Usually the loyalty that makes 
men fight is patriotism for a city or state, or for some 



36 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

form of government or religion. This last is the ultimate 
loyalty. To rise beyond a certain point patriotism 
must have something of religion in it ; the citizen must 
feel that his national ideal is of supreme importance a 
sort of god. Like authority, loyalty cannot be 
made to order. 

Although all four factors are closely intertwined, 
with the moral factor running through the other three, 
nevertheless the political, economic and technical elements 
are all necessary to war. The political factor must tye 
present, because in order to have a war there must be 
two groups each with an end to gain by fighting. Group A 
must say to B : " If you go on as you have been doing, or 
refuse to make good the damage you have already done, 
I will fight you." And B must reply : " I will fight rather 
than make reparation or give up my policy." The 
offence may be women-stealing as in the case of Helen 
of Troy, a slave-raid as in the fourteenth chapter of 
Genesis, or cattle-lifting as in the old Irish epics ; at the 
other end of the scale it may be the proposal of a great 
state to conquer or impoverish another ; the principle 
is the same because each group is trying to impose "its 
will upon the other. In any case the moral factor 
dominates the political, because each must have enough 
cohesion to persuade its individuals to co-operate. No 
community will begin a war without the certainty of 
some active consent by the governed ; people must be 
willing to pay and to serve, for governments can deal 
with considerable amounts of slackness or rebellion but 
are powerless when these go beyond a certain point. In 
war the loyalty of the citizens is strained because of the 
conflict between their individual interests and the public 
interest ; every man, once his natural combativeness has 
been satisfied, increasingly dislikes the dangers, hardships, 
and losses of the affair. If the general loyalty be over- 
strained the social order dissolves. Authority breaks 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 37 

down ; either the armies melt by desertion or the 
government is overthrown by revolution. 

The economic force making for wars is obvious ; it 
takes the moral or, if you prefer, the immoral form of 
greed for and jealousy of other peoples' goods. On the 
other hand, the economic limitation is absolute : primitive 
hunters are physically unable to pursue their enemies 
long after the food in their own pouches is gone ; they 
must then turn aside to kill game, gather nuts and fruit, 
of seize some accumulated supply. Soldiers in training 
or on active service cannot support themselves by 
farming or in any other way ; their upkeep and munition- 
ment are therefore a charge against the capital and 
productive labour which the community can command, 
although successful wars can be made to pay for 
themselves either wholly or in part by seizing the enemy's 
possessions. Not only the amount of wealth in the 
community matters, but also the extent to which it can 
be made available for supporting war; commercial 
wealth is more liquid than agricultural. The economic 
factor modifies the political, since communities are slow 
to begin wars likely to exhaust their resources ; in 
August, 1914, everyone expected a short war, especially 
the Prussians, who remembered their rapid victories over 
Austria in 1866 and over France in 1870-71. Morale 
determines the amount of sacrifice and hardship a 
community will stand. 

The third factor, the technical, includes the design, 
manufacture and supply of weapons and instruments of 
war, the organization of the armed forces, their training, 
and the generalship with which they are handled. In 
part the technical blends with the economic, for the same 
command over physical nature which serves to produce 
wealth serves also to produce weapons. Indeed, no 
small share of the grim irony of material progress springs 
from the fact that so many of its achievements are 



38 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

potential weapons, from simple devices like the knife 
and the axe to the merchant-ship convertible into a 
war-ship of a sort, the aeroplane, the caterpillar tractor 
convertible into a tank, or the chemical knowledge which 
makes possible explosives and poison gas. Economics 
limit military technique in the matter of strategy, that 
is the way in which armies are disposed in a theatre of 
war and led to the battle-field, for all strategy depends 
upon transport and supply, which in turn depend upon 
the economic organization of the country where Vie 
fighting is, its density of population, the amount of food 
and shelter available, the extent to which its 
communications are organized by means of roads, bridges, 
and so on. Among the reasons for the crucial defeat 
of Napoleon in 1812 were the emptiness of Russia and 
its lack of made roads. Economics also limit military 
technique as regards tactics, the disposition of troops for 
combat and the method of fighting, for tactics are 
designed to fit certain sorts of ground, and ground is 
modified by human action. For example, the highly- 
specialized eighteenth-century tactics with their rigid 
formations in line and their shoulder-to-shoulder volleys 
suited cleared land, especially the unfenced fields of 
continental Europe, but did not suit the woods of 
revolutionary America. On the other hand, terrain is 
only one condition of tactics ; the American method of 
skirmishing soon came into fashion in Europe in the 
Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars there. 

Tactics are independent of economics in so far as they 
are governed by army organization ; those of a long- 
service professional body will differ from those of lower- 
grade troops. Thus in the 1914 retreat from Mons the 
British regulars, thanks to their high training in musketry, 
were able again and again to break off an action and 
retire in safety from before greater numbers of short- 
service German conscripts. The Germans seem to have 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 39 

believed the Old Contemptibles to have been heavily 
armed with machine-guns, not imagining that such 
volume and accuracy of fire was possible from shoulder 
rifles. It is true that a community must have reached a 
certain moderate economic level before it can support a 
professional army, but once this has been achieved it has 
its choice between professionals, short-term troops, or 
mixed forces. The reasons for this choice are complex ; 
at bottom it is determined by the social organization and 
political motives, in short the morals, of the community 
in question. A state intent on holding distant and 
exposed possessions is almost compelled to do so by 
professional troops, whereas most primitive folk expect 
all their able-bodied free males to be warriors on part 
time. States insistent on repose prefer either long-term 
professionals or wholly improvised troops. Everyone 
knows the weakness of these last in proportion to the 
effort put into them ; they can solve only the easiest 
military problems, and that wastefully. On the other 
hand, professional armies too have their limitations ; 
being expensive per man, they must be small. Further, 
the training of their recruits takes a long time ; 
accordingly, whatever their spirit of sacrifice and ability 
to stand heavy loss without breaking, their generals must 
think twice before throwing them away lavishly. That 
which cannot easily be replaced must be used cautiously ; 
we may compare Jellicoe's reluctance to risk his huge, 
costly and irreplaceable mastodon battleships at Jutland : 
fie was the only man on either side who could have lost 
the war in a single afternoon. So on land, only 
:ommanders supplied with abundant and cheap recruit- 
ment can be prodigal of blood. For some jobs you must 
tiave numbers, for instance to defend very long lines or 
to occupy and hold down large areas densely populated 
with high-spirited folk of a civilization not much below 
:>ne's own. Accordingly those rare civilized states which 



40 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

have prepared for the greatest military effort and have 
put forth their entire fighting power have always tended 
to armies of mixed type in which a considerable 
professional element leavens an enormous mass possessing 
some training and recruited under universal compulsory 
service laws. We are all too familiar to-day with the 
terrible reaction from such efforts when prolonged. In 
unusual crises the entire adult community tends to be 
drawn in ; in certain besieged cities and other rare cases 
of desperation even women have fought. Thus tke 
nature and purposes of a community are closely 
intertwined with the type of armed force it chooses, each 
having its advantages and disadvantages. 



At this point a possible objection must be met. 
Materially-minded people, while admitting the increased 
savagery and destructiveness of recent wars, sometimes 
say that these evils are due chiefly to the new weapons 
and consequent increased power of destruction possessed 
by man through the late advances in the physical sciences. 
It is, indeed, unhappily true that the possession of new 
mechanical devices often encourages their possessors to 
disregard old moral restraints. Thus in the World War 
we saw naval officers who, had they been acting from 
surface ships, would not have dreamed of sinking 
merchantmen without first putting those on board in a 
place of safety as required by the universally accepted 
rules of war, ruthlessly doing so from submarines. Again, 
take the use of poison. Savages have always used it 
on arrows. Over and over again throughout history it 
would have been advantageous for retreating armies 
to have poisoned the wells they left behind them. And 
yet it was not done, whereas poison gases were freely 
used by both sides from 1915 to 1918. 

On a smaller scale the same principle may be daily 



tHE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 4! 

seen at work. People who would be ashamed of screaming 
or beating drums to the annoyance of their neighbours 
think nothing of doing so with .radios and outboard 
motor-boats. And so with the careless or deliberate use 
of speed-boats, aeroplanes and automobiles. 

But when all this has been granted, the ifcaterialists 
must in their turn admit that the essential point is not 
the existence of the new devices but the willingness or 
unwillingness of people to use them in certain ways. It 
is true that morals depend much upon traditional habit, 
whereas new devices have no tradition of restraint in 
their use. On the other hand, there are equally familiar 
instances of rapid moral conquest over new machinery. 
Twenty years ago automobiles had muffler cut-outs, and 
with his the writer in his hot youth used to delight in 
making a hellish din, especially in the quiet hour just 
before dark. But the automobile manufacturers soon 
saw the light, and their present products do not permit 
this foolish amusement. The motor-cycle, the outboard 
motor and even the aeroplane may soon, please God ! 
follow the automobile engine into comparative noiseless- 
ness. 

In the matter of killing people one is just as dead if 
finished by a club or stone as if one's exit is accompanied 
by the full devil's orchestra of the most modern science. 
For that matter, hands and feet are often deadly enough. 
In my boyhood a certain weaponless Irish coachman once 
killed a far more dangerous foe than the average unarmed 
man, to wit, a great Dane dog which attacked him. He 
choked it insensible and then jumped upon it until he 
had smashed all its ribs. Death cannot be made more 
terrible by complex instruments. Moreover, as a certain 
poet named Homer, not unknown to the pre-jazz age, 
remarked in the Odyssey : 

" For an enduring heart have the destinies given the 
children of men." 



42 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

In other words, the race has a considerable power of 
standing up to things. Even outside of death in battle, 
in the matter of torture the Bolshevik has probably 
improved but little on the Red Indian. So much, then, 
for the general refutation of the materialist argument. 

So common is the materialist muddle of many modern 
minds that it is necessary to insist as strongly as possible 
that the degree of limitation in war has nothing to do 
with the deadliness and destructive power of weapons, 
but is a moral question. Later in this book this point 
will unavoidably appear and reappear, for in every 
discussion of the present danger of the civilized world 
one finds numbed intelligences wearily droning out 
variations of the same fallacy which all military history 
combines to condemn. Therefore at this point in our 
analysis let us fix firmly in our minds that the exhausting 
wars of the later Roman Republic were fought with the 
same swords, spears and javelins as the strictly limited 
wars of the Roman Empire. Just so the colossal 
Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars were waged with cannon 
and muskets precisely like those used in the strictly 
limited eighteenth-century wars between kings. As 
regards destruction, Rome needed no high explosives to 
blot out Carthage and Jerusalem ; fire, human muscle, 
and her white-man's hatred of the Semitic soul were 
enough. As civilization advances on its material side, 
increased power to destroy is more or less balanced by 
increased power to protect and build. Again, the cat- 
fight shows that the deadliness of weapons has nothing 
to do with the amount of killing, for as regards each 
other two cats are formidably armed. As far as weapons 
go, battles fought hand to hand or at the shortest ranges 
seem to have been more deadly, at least to the defeated 
side, than modern combats of the same size and duration. 
Raise from two bitterly hostile populations two armies, 
discipline them and train them to fight with sticks and 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 43 

stones, and there is nothing to prevent their killing each 
other off to the last man if they choose. The strict 
limitation of war is not a technical but a permanent 
human problem successfully solved again and again in 
the past. What matters is first the will to fight, second 
the extent to which the community is involved in the 
struggle, third the amount of damage inflicted before a 
decision is reached. The first is a moral question ; the 
second and third are divided between morals and military 

technique. 

* * * * * 

Returning to our analysis, since we have seen that all 
four limitations of war are permanent, the reader may 
ask what so many intelligent men have meant by 
" unlimited " or " absolute " war ? The answer is that 
they used the term " unlimited " either as shorthand 
for " strictly limited " which shorthand use is followed 
in the title of this book, or else they understood it in a 
restricted sense and only with regard to the political 
object sought. Whatever the errors of Clausewitz's 
commentators, the great Prussian military philosopher 
himself was clear on this point : when he spoke of 
unlimited or absolute war he meant that in which 
the political object is the complete overthrow of the 
entire hostile group. For him limited wars were those 
in which the political objective is limited, that is, when 
the force used is intended to injure the enemy and 
persuade him to terms but not totally to conquer or 
disarm him. The Spanish-American and Russo-Japanese 
conflicts are good examples of wars limited by political 
objective. In 1898 the American objective was to drive 
Spain from Cuba ; secondarily to strengthen the United 
States, in the Caribbean by occupying Porto Rico, in the 
Far East by conquering the Philippines ; there was no 
intention to invade Spain itself ; the object could be 
obtained without such an operation. Nor did the 



44 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Spaniards try to invade the United States ; their object 
was merely to retain their colonies, and when these had 
been captured they did not think it worth while going on. 
So in 1904 and 1905 neither Russia nor Japan intended 
the complete overthrow of the other ; the ambitions of 
both sides were limited to Korea and Manchuria. When 
the Japanese had occupied these territorial objectives, 
and when the Russians found that the strain of war was 
telling upon their own flimsy social structure, both were 
ready for peace. ' 

When your political object is " unlimited," that is 
when you mean to conquer your enemy altogether, either 
to destroy his independence by annexing all his territory 
or to disarm him completely and dictate peace on your 
own terms, then it is true that all the permanent 
limitations are lessened. The enemy, seeing that you 
mean to injure him greatly, will make more effort than if 
the intended injury were slight. If he be powerful, then 
you, in turn, must make a greater moral, political, 
economic and technical effort. How great your effort will 
be within the limits of what is economically and 
technically possible will depend on the morale of 
your people. Accordingly most great wars have been 
fought for " unlimited " political objects. Nevertheless, 
Clausewitz's distinction between limited and " unlimited " 
objects, however valuable, does not explain why certain 
societies have limited war so much more successfully than 
others. 

The answer seems to be that the amount of war 
within a society depends upon the degree of moral 
disunion and consequent discontent within that society. 
We have seen that an ideally virtuous world would need 
no weapons at all, and that in practice armed police work 
against an occasional criminal is the irreducible minimum 
of soldiering necessary to any human group. While a 
certain amount of violence may be a mere expression of 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 45 

energy, in a well unified society the fighting instinct goes 
into police work, since practically everyone accepts the 
ideas of right and wrong prevailing in that community. 
But if crime increases, that means an increasing minority 
hostile to the accepted standards ; or suppose that there 
is more and more angry debate as to the justice of this or 
that law or social arrangement ; in either case moral 
disunion is causing social strain. If the criminals go on 
increasing, or if the disputes cannot be reconciled, then 
tl:ere will be civil war. The more discontent the more 
strife. 

As with civil, so with foreign war. In a sense all 
mankind constitute a single society to which lesser units 
belong. Every war is as much a conflict of moral ideas 
as of weapons ; that which seems right to one side seems 
wrong to the other. Take the simplest cases. A must in 
effect say to B : " You have no right to this or that which 
you possess, at least no better right than myself/' Or : 
" You have so injured or shocked me by your conduct 
that I will compel you to change your ways." In the 
graver cases A says : " You have no right to your 
independence. I will make a better world by compelling 
you to pay me tribute, or to be my subjects, or my 
slaves." To carry through a great military effort the 
citizens of A must believe that the men of B are either 
wicked or inferior, that is they must feel themselves 
morally divided from the B men. Or else the A men 
must be discontented ; otherwise they would say : 
" Why should we cross the border in arms when our own 
land already gives us enough and to spare ? " 

Thus discontent and moral disunion are the causes 
of strife. Without diminishing them, to try to diminish 
war is futile. Fuller has well said that to say, " Stop all 
wars" without removing their causes is to say, " Let there 
be no more tides " without abolishing the moon. He has 
also added to Sherman's epigram : " The legitimate 



46 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

object of war is a more perfect peace," the equally 
pregnant words : " The legitimate object of peace is a 
more perfect man." 

Alas ! what might constitute a perfect man is a 
philosophical and religious question on which mankind 
is not yet agreed. We may note, however, that the harm 
done by war is only partly physical the destruction of 
wealth and the loss of life. Still more important is the 
moral damage : should a war lower the accumulated 
spiritual values so that men say, " We are baser thaft 
we were," then the replacement of the incidental physical 
destruction by no means ends the injury. On the other 
hand, when the community continues to agree that the 
war was just, then moral force is not so much lowered. 
Indeed, some wars, even great wars, are not spiritually 
destructive but fruitful, raising the spirit of the group so 
that the physical destruction is presently swallowed up 
in a prosperity greater than before. 

Again, just as healthy men, organically and 
functionally sound, may risk a strain which would kill 
others who carry even a hidden trace of disease, so a 
morally united group is capable of military efforts which 
would dissolve a divided community. 

Whether any given great war may result in physical 
and moral destruction so serious as to threaten disaster 
to society depends greatly on the time it takes to get a 
decision. (Although the causes which start hostilities 
are moral, and although a breakdown of morale on either 
side will end the struggle ; when once the fighting begins 
technique and chance determine the course of events. A 
long and great war without a decision makes the blind 
combative instinct prevail over the original and reasonable 
desire for a better peace than that which went before, 
until both sides feel the approach of calamity and both 
continue to fight only to avoid the greater evils sure to 
follow defeat. Moreover, great wars make a true peace 



THE PERMANENT LIMITATIONS OF WAR 47 

almost impossible without the permanent political 
destruction of the defeated group ; on both sides the 
bitterness is enormous, and the conqueror is tempted to 
abuse his temporary omnipotence by so humiliating and 
injuring the conquered that they refuse to be reconciled 
to his conditions and merely bide their time for revenge. 
If one or more of the permanent limitations did not 
interpose a check, and if the war were indefinitely 
prolonged, then the fighting groups would risk extermina- 
tion. Happily this, at least, has never happened in 
history. The extreme penalty of social dissolution is 
bad enough. Although great wars are in themselves 
calamities, they are Nature's (or God's) instrument for 
ridding the earth of diseased societies which can find no 
remedy for their evils. 

* * * * * 

If this analysis be sound, one would expect to find 
in history, first, that the civilizations which have suffered 
greatly from war have been those in which grave moral 
disunion existed ; second, that all reasonably stable 
civilizations have owed their security to their degree of 
religious and moral unity which has enabled them' 
strictly to limit war by putting force behind agreed and 
admitted right. 

Let us look 'at the historical record. 



CHAPTER III 

THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 

THE idea of the business cycle is to-day all too familialr. 
Without discussing here how far the savage to and fro 
of our time between economic booms and slumps might 
be moderated, all the works of man follow a certain 
rhythm. If we apply this to the relation between war 
and society, history shows that wars have always run 
in cycles between a strictly limited form and one which 
may be conveniently called unlimited, rising toward 
the war of complete extermination, but, happily, never 
reaching that unattainable absolute, then falling back 
toward an equally unattainable minimum of mere police 
work. 

The first known cycle of war, that of the Greco- 
Roman world, begins with the failure of the Greeks to 
limit war strictly and continues with the similar failure 
of the Roman Republic. The Roman Empire, however, 
succeeded in limiting it more strictly than any society 
before or since. 



Confining ourselves to the Mediterranean and European 
origins of our own civilization, we find all ancient war 
politically limited by slavery. All ancient societies 
owned slaves. Often the majority of men were compelled 
by law to work for masters, and for a slave to be a soldier 
was exceptional. Sometimes a besieged city in its last 
extremity would arm slaves, and these would fight for 

48 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 49 

their masters against the enemy. But normally slaves 
were considered unworthy of arms. 



History, in the full sense of continuous written 
record, begins with the Greeks. Monuments and 
inscriptions have taught us much concerning the very 
old civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean 
area ; in Egypt and Mesopotamia we find large, regularly- 
organized, monarchical states, civilized and industrious 
populations and considerable cities several miles in 
circumference, the Mesopotamian cities highly fortified 
with double or triple walls studded with towers. We 
find also highly-organized armies. At first these are of 
infantry alone ; among the earlier Mesopotamian reliefs 
is one of warriors in close formation with spears, helmets, 
and large shields ; in Egypt considerable bodies of spear- 
men and bowmen are shown marching in regular formation 
and in step. Later the domestication of the horse 
modified warfare ; at first horses were used for drawing 
chariots rather than for riding ; about 1700 B.C. they 
seem to have contributed largely to the conquest of 
Egypt by an Asiatic tribe. Later still the Assyrians had 
not only chariots but also cavalry, siege machinery, 
including battering-rams, movable towers and crude 
catapults. The early Orient had the idea of Empire by 
means of military conquest. The Assyrians inflicted the 
greatest cruelties upon the vanquished ; in their case, 
at least, war seems to have approached its unlimited 
form. On the other hand, we know little of the recruit- 
ment and composition of the early Oriental armies, and 
still less of the social aspect of their wars. There may 
have been a tacit convention that only conquered kings 
and very high nobles were to be tortured and killed ; 
it may have been the custom to spare the masses and at 
most to deport them to new homes, 
p 



50 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

The dawn of history finds the coasts of the 
Mediterranean covered with city states fully possessed 
of the arts, letters, laws and developed military institu- 
tions proper to a high civilization. East and south-east 
of the inland sea were civilized Oriental states much 
larger than a single city. Among the city-states those 
of the Syrian coast and of North Africa were of Oriental 
blood and civilization, following religions either bestial 
or else deeply concerned with the mystery of evil, 
sometimes horribly so. Most of the city-states, however, 
were European in race and culture, and among the 
cities of European men the great majority were Greek. 

In the beginning we find the highly-gifted Greek 
people full of energy ; increasing in numbers, expanding 
on the material side extensively by means of colonies, 
intensively through trade and manufacture. Their wars 
were partly fruitful in that they were almost always 
better fighters than the Orientals ; their repulse of the 
Persians inspired the first triumphs of their civilization, 
and Alexander's conquest of the East led to a second 
successful phase. Nevertheless, their first great period 
was dragged down by a century of ruinous civil wars 
within the Greek culture, beginning with the first and 
worst, the Peloponnesian War ; and Alexander's con- 
quests were followed by further dissension. To the end 
the intense patriotism of a Greek was for his own city ; 
his sanctities were more local than universally Greek, still 
less universally human. 

The typical Greek army was a universal-service 
militia into which all free citizens might be drafted ; 
financial reasons usually prevented all being called out 
at once unless the city itself were besieged. Since most 
manual work was done by slaves, and much commerce 
was in the hands of non-naturalized resident aliens, the 
city militias were fairly well practised in arms ; also 
the Greek cult of athletics favoured physical fitness. 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 51 

The typical armed man, the " hoplite," was the armoured 
foot-soldier, fighting chiefly with a thrusting spear and 
equipped with metal helmet, cuirass, shin-guards and 
shield. The combination of a highly-energetic and 
gifted people with a barren country all islands and 
peninsulas, with small, moderately fertile plains, shut 
in by mountains of bare rock helped to produce food- 
wars, largely decided by sea power. Indeed, navies were 
more highly developed than armies in that a specialized 
t^pe of warship, useless for peace purposes, was 
developed ; a long and narrow row-galley fitted with a 
ram and incapable of carrying cargo. Since siege 
machinery was at first unknown, whereas stone fortifica- 
tion was well advanced, sieges were long and difficult, 
and the usual object of a campaign was to destroy the 
enemy's standing crops ; armies, therefore, took the 
field in summer, not in winter when there was nothing 
to destroy. The short campaigns, in turn, suited the 
city militia system. 

The first Greek wars of the historic period were 
scuffles between individual city-states. On the other 
hand, the repulse of the vast Persian Empire was a real 
feat of arms. Better equipment, and especially metal 
armour, played a part in the victory ; the Orientals 
relied much upon the bow and were comparatively 
unprotected. Probably the Greek superiority in armour 
indicates an economic development more intensive than 
that of the Orient, for armour costs money. Material, 
however, is not everything in war, indeed much of the 
decisive fighting was on the water, where the Greeks 
seem to have had no superiority in equipment. The 
Greeks must, therefore, have been better seamen and 
land fighters than the Orientals. They may have been 
racially superior, and their constant athletic competition 
must have counted for something. Although first they 
had feared the Persians, yet after their success the 



52 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Greeks themselves said that free citizens were better 
men than the subjects of an Oriental despot. At this 
point we should note that the Greeks were politically 
active ; their cities showed a wide and shifting variety 
of political type ; they are sometimes monarchies, 
sometimes oligarchies, sometimes democracies ruled by 
all free citizens without distinction of class, although 
always based upon slavery and unwilling to naturalize 
resident foreigners. The Persian wars were not exhausting 
but fruitful ; their episodes were widely separated in 
time, and each was short ; the greatest Xerxes' 
invasion of Greece lasted through only two campaigning 
seasons. 

The importance of moral and spiritual values in war 
is shown by the fact that Athens, having gained most 
of the glory of the Persian defeats, now became the 
leading power in Greece, although she had been the only 
important city devastated by the invaders. She became 
the chief member of a confederacy including the ^Egean 
Islanders and the Greeks of the western coast of Asia 
Minor. Soon her democratic statesmen altered the 
arrangement to a tribute-paying empire of which she 
was the head. Athens, however, used her new position 
ruthlessly, and her prosperity roused the jealousy of 
those Greek trading cities who would not come in under 
her, also of Sparta, a Peloponnesian city which had long 
been the chief Greek land power. To this day the name 
of Spartan stands for heroic endurance ; they were 
citizens of an agricultural state, contemptuous of 
commerce and concentrated upon valour and military 
drill, whereas Athens was the chief manufacturing and 
trading city of Greece, with the greatest wealth, the 
largest merchant fleet and the strongest navy. 

The war of Sparta and her Allies against the Athenian 
Empire, known as the Peloponnesian War, went on with 
intervals of peace for twenty-seven years, and resulted 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 53 

in the eclipse of the first great phase of Greek civilization. 
Neither party was able to strike for a decision ; the 
Peloponnesians systematically devastated Attica, but did 
not attack Athens, which was connected with her ports 
by means of " long walls " ; while the Athenians, with 
their superior navy, were able to raid the Peloponnesian 
coast and hamper the commerce of the trading cities 
allied with Sparta. In the long run the more complex 
and brittle economic organization of Athens weakened 
under the strain ; not being self-supporting in food, 
she had to pay her soldiers and especially the sailors of 
her war fleet, and this ended by destroying her initial 
superiority in wealth. Toward the end the Persians, 
seeing in Athens a more dangerous enemy than Sparta, 
supported the Spartans with money ; moreover, the 
Athenian democrats were willing to tax only the richest 
of their countrymen. Since navies are expensive, the 
Spartan alliance finally became stronger than Athens at 
sea, and this ended the war. It is worth noting that just 
before the Peloponnesian War the Athenians had un- 
successfully disputed with the Persians the important 
grain area of Egypt ; midway in the Peloponnesian 
struggle the Athenian expedition to Sicily, had it won, 
would have opened up another grain area ; finally, the 
last Athenian fleet was sent to the Dardanelles the 
water gateway to the fertile plains north and west of 
the Black Sea. 

Accompaniments of the struggle were plague within 
the walls of Athens among the overcrowded refugees 
from the devastated Attic country side. Food became 
scarce, prices rose, almost everyone was in debt. So 
many young men had been killed or were absent on 
service that comic authors began to play with ideas of 
what the women might do if they stood together. 
Aristophanes' imaginary heroine, Lysistrata " The 
Releaser of Armies" organizes a general sex-strike of 



54 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

all wives and mistresses, both in Athens and in Sparta. 
It is true that few Athenian citizens were executed or 
judicially murdered, but the Athenians were ready 
enough to massacre revolted allies and sometimes even 
neutrals. The Athenian democrats, after pillaging the 
wealthy class in their own allied cities, turned to 
confiscating the property of rich Athenians suspected of 
insufficient zeal for the war. Political office fell into the 
hands of low-born, unscrupulous and violent rogues. 
Spy-mania went hand in hand with war-fever. We hear 
of war-hungry profiteers and munition makers. The 
greatness of Athens, the intellectual and artistic capital 
of the ancient world, died no clean death, but basely in 
the foul mud of evil deeds. 

For our purpose the interest of the Peloponnesian 
War is the social degeneration it brought. Thucydides 
writes (III, 82) : 

" So the class-war at Korkyra grew more and more 
savage, and it made a particular impression because it 
was the first outbreak of an upheaval that spread in 
time through almost the whole of Greek society. In 
every state there were conflicts of class, and the leaders 
of the respective parties now procured the intervention 
of the Athenians or the Lacedaemonians on their side. 
In peace-time they would have had neither the 
opportunity nor the inclination to call in the foreigner, 
but now there was the war, and it was easy for any 
party of violence to get their opponents crushed and 
themselves into power by an alliance with one of the 
belligerents. This recrudescence of class war brought 
one calamity after another upon the states of Greece 
calamities that occur and will continue to occur as long 
as human nature remains what it is, however they may 
be modified or occasionally mitigated by changes of 
circumstances. Under the favourable conditions of 
peace-time communities and individuals do not have 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 55 

their hands forced by the logic of events, and can, there- 
fore, act up to a higher standard. But war strips away 
all the margins of ordinary life and breaks-in character 
to circumstance by its brutal training. So the states 
were torn by the class-war, and the sensation made by 
each outbreak had a sinister effect on the next in fact, 
there was something like a competition in perfecting the 
fine art of conspiracies and atrocities. ..." 

(Ill, 83) : " Thus the class-war plunged Greek 
society into every kind of moral evil, and honesty, which 
is the chief constituent of idealism, was laughed out of 
existence in the prevailing atmosphere of hostility and 
suspicion. No argument was cogent enough and no 
pledge solemn enough to reconcile opponents. The only 
argument that appealed to the party momentarily in 
power was the unlikelihood of their remaining there 
long and the consequent advisability of taking no risks 
with their enemies. And the stupider the combatants 
the greater their chances of survival, just because they 
were terrified at their deficiencies, expected to be out- 
witted and out-manoeuvred and, therefore, plunged 
recklessly into action, while their superiors in intellect, 
who trusted to their wits to protect them and disdained 
practical precautions, were often caught defenceless and 
brought to destruction." 

Nor were the conquering Spartans able to organize 
Greece ; indeed, in the long run they were even less 
successful than the Athenians in persuading other cities 
to follow them. After the Spartans the Thebans did 
no better. Of the second great Theban victory, at 
Mantinea, Xenophon a professional soldier and an 
author who had gained fame by writing of wars, but 
also a father who had lost his son in the action sadly 
says : 

" The result of the battle disappointed everyone's 

expectations. Almost the whole of Greece had mobilized 

i L /j! 



56 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

on one side or the other, and it was taken for granted 
that if it came to an action the victors would be able 
to do what they liked and the vanquished would be at 
their mercy. But Providence so disposed it that both 
sides . . . claimed the victory, and yet neither had 
gained a foot of territory, a single city or a particle of 
power beyond what they had possessed before the battle. 
On the contrary, there was more unsettlement and 
disorder in Greece after the battle than before it. But 
I do not propose to carry my narrative farther, and will 
leave the sequel to any other historian who cares to 
record it." (Hellcnica, VII, 5 fin.) 

After about a century of wars between the Greek 
cities the population and wealth of Greece seem to have 
declined. Of this decline war was not the only cause ; 
infanticide, abortion, and unnatural vice played their 
parts ; nevertheless, war was the important cause. 
Certainly the buoyant hope of the first great days had 
gone. 

Macedonia, a state on the border of the Greek culture, 
now became the chief power in Greece, in part because 
of technical military superiority, in part because 
Macedonia was on a larger scale than the city state, 
and had the military advantage of strong monarchical 
government. Next, Alexander of Macedonia rapidly 
conquered the entire Persian Empire ; three years' 
campaigning were enough to increase nearly a hundred- 
fold the area subject to rulers of the Greek culture, 
and thus to begin another great period in Greek history. 
Although Alexander's empire promptly broke up, new 
experiments in federation were attempted ; but still 
equilibrium was not achieved ; if none of the frequent 
wars troubled the bases of social order like the 
Peloponnesian War, on the other hand the disturbances 
were now on a greater scale and were fought with 
more expensive weapons. 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 57 

In the later Greek period mercenaries became more 
prominent. Nevertheless, the citizen-soldier idea did 
not die out ; in an emergency third-dentury Greek cities 
would still put citizen forces into the field, and a large 
part of Alexander's army were native Macedonians. 
Among Alexander's successors, the Seleucid Dynasty in 
Asia followed with some success a regular policy of 
stimulating the loyalty of their mercenaries by land 
grants on discharge, veterans' colonies, etc. Other 
technical developments were an increased use of light 
infantry armed with missile weapons, and occasional 
signs of increased flexibility and manoeuvring power in 
the deep formations of the heavy infantry. The 
Macedonians lengthened the heavy infantryman's pike. 
They also made great use of cavalry, so much so that for 
a moment after Alexander's death cavalry and not 
infantry seems to have been the decisive arm a 
development which, could it be fully known, might 
reveal important technical and social facts. It was, 
however, short lived, and the heavy infantry soon regained 
their traditional superiority. Together with the increased 
wealth of the Greek world, warships greatly increased in 
size, and siege machinery, especially catapult-artillery, 
became complex, abundant and powerful. Alexander 
used it for position warfare in the open as well as for 
sieges, and later there are traces of its use as field- 
artillery. 

* * * * * 

So matters stood when a new, great power, Rome, 
appeared. The future mistress of the world began as a 
city state of the familiar type, but soon became superior 
to other existing states not only in military technique 
but also in political wisdom. Technically she continued 
to rely chiefly on armoured infantry, but used it more 
flexibly both in the individual fighting and in the general 
formation for battle. The sword, which had been 



58 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

secondary in Greek fighting, was made the chief weapon 

of the Roman legionary. For the thrusting spear 

which the Greeks had used Rome substituted a heavy 

javelin intended to encumber an enemy by piercing his 

shield. But the chief technical discovery of Rome was 

in the disposition of reserves. The Greeks (although with 

traces of variation toward the end) were accustomed to 

form a single, deep and massive line the phalanx. If 

the first "push of pike" failed to decide matters, the 

fight would develop into a series of individual combats, 

each man being able to drop back when wounded or 

severely fatigued and be replaced by his next in file. 

Thus there was little killing until at last the morale and 

formation of one side broke, after which the victors, if 

they chose, could massacre such fugitives as they could 

catch. The weakness of the phalanx was that the men 

immediately behind the fighting front rank were under 

the severe moral strain of watching more or less passively 

and at close quarters the bloody game in which they 

must soon share. Thus there was a tendency of the rear 

ranks to give way ; they were subjected to a far worse 

variety of the sinking feeling known to all boxers as they 

sit in their corners looking across the ring at the opponent 

just before the call of time for the first round. Indeed, 

panic often begins in the rear ranks or even in the rear 

areas, so that the rear gives way in war while the front 

is still firm. Napier noted this of the rear of the deep 

French columns of the Napoleonic time, and just before 

the Armistice in 1918- it was the German troops in the 

rear areas who mutinied and fought with their officers 

while the front line troops remained loyal. The Romans 

solved the problem by a three line formation in which 

most of the reserves were spared the anguish of witnessing 

at the closest quarters the fighting in which they could 

not yet share. When wanted, they could be brought up 

with the impetus of a charge, the former fighting-line 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 59 

retiring rapidly through intervals which were closed 
behind it, and the manoeuvre taking place too rapidly 
for the enemy to interfere with it, especially as he himself 
must keep in some sort of formation. 

Although Rome's technical military superiority was 
a great part of her strength, it was by no means the 
whole. Without her political wisdom she might have 
stopped almost where Sparta stopped ; instead, she made 
wise policy support her courage quite as much as her 
courage advanced her policy. Thus, although her rich 
were often quarrelling with large factions of her poorer 
citizens, neither side ever called in the foreigner in the 
ruinous Greek fashion, and for centuries neither party to 
a quarrel would push a temporary success so far as to 
endanger the unity of the state. In her relations with 
non-citizens her naturalization policy was broader than 
that of the Greek cities. She made it worth while for 
outsiders to become citizens, and she cautiously but 
steadily allowed them to do so. So with those of her 
allies who were not at least not yet citizens ; she made 
it worth while to be her ally. Indeed, it was afterwards 
said that she had conquered the world by coming to the 
aid of her allies. Shortly after 300 B.C. she was the loyally- 
followed master of a well-knit federated state including 
the entire Italian peninsula except for the Po Valley. 

At this point Rome entered upon the greatest military 
struggle of her history, her contest with Carthage. The 
latter, a North African city of Asiatic blood, was 
constituted as an aristocratic republic. The Carthaginians 
were of the familiar Semitic commercial type ; they were 
also great sailors. Unequalled in sea power and in wealth, 
they ruled an empire including North Africa, much of 
Spain, and all the islands of the Western Mediterranean 
except a small part of Sicily. They disliked soldiering, 
however, and for land fighting relied upon a professional 
army chiefly of foreign mercenaries. 



60 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

The critical episode of Rome's long struggle with 
Carthage was the second Punic War, in which for the first 
and last time in eight centuries the future mistress of the 
world had to fight for her life as an independent state. 
Under a great military genius, Hannibal, the Carthaginians 
invaded Italy, beat the Romans repeatedly, destroyed 
several Roman armies, and maintained themselves for 
fifteen years on Italian soil. Even after a century and a 
half the same interval of time as that which separates 
us from the American Revolution the Roman poet 
Lucretius is still full of the unique horror of Hannibal's 
war. Arguing against the immortality of the soul, he 
writes (III, 830, etc.) : 

" So death is nothing to us and matters nothing to us, 
since we have proved that the soul is not immortal. And 
as in time past we felt no ill, when the Phoenicians were 
pouring in to battle on every front, when the world 
rocked with the shock and tumult of war and shivered 
from centre to firmament, when all mankind on sea and 
land must fall under the victor's empire and victory was 
doubt so, when we have ceased to be, when body and 
soul, in whose union is our being, have been parted, then 
nothing can touch us we shall not be and nothing can 
make us feel, no, not if earth is confounded with sea and 
sea with heaven." 

Plenty of modern people were in much the same state 
of mind in 1917-18. 

Over and above the determination of the Romans, 
Hannibal was beaten- because hardly any of the Italian 
cities were willing to come over to him, notwithstanding 
his victories. They must have felt the Semitic 
Carthaginians, with their gloomy and horrible religion of 
human sacrifice, to be profoundly alien and hateful. 

The final defeat of Carthage made Rome supreme 
throughout the Western Mediterranean ; a few more 
campaigns made her preponderant in the Eastern half. 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 6l 

A man born in 202 B.C., the year of the crowning victory 
over Hannibal, dying at seventy-five, would have lived 
to see Rome ruling from Atlantic Spain to Central Asia 
Minor. Another two long lifetimes saw Gaul conquered 
to the Rhine and the entire Mediterranean area divided 
into Roman provinces. 

These vast new conquests were carried on with the 
old Roman skill and accompanied by the old Roman 
power to assimilate conquered and allied people. In 
the Eastern, now the Greek, half of the Mediterranean 
world the immemorial city patriotisms were burnt out, 
and there were no lasting protests against Roman rule. 
Nor was Rome in a hurry to stamp out the last embers 
of Greek liberty ; occasional cities remained independent 
for centuries before they were at last painlessly absorbed. 
In the West the barbarous and semi-civilized tribes, 
once conquered, were well content with their new 
conditions. But the pace was too fast, the economic and 
the political changes too great, for society to remain 
stable. Too many of those at the top of society were 
half-drunk with sudden wealth and power. Too many 
humbler Romans when, for instance, as private soldiers, 
they saw a chance to grab a share of the swag, gulped 
with an equal appetite. In the chaos the unrest at the 
bottom of society equalled the unrestraint at the top. 
Throughout much of the Greek world the period of 
Roman conquest saw the old curse of class-war blaze up 
fiercely again. For the first time in history there were 
slave insurrections. Later, when our Lord said : " The 
foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but 
the Son of Man has not where to lay His head," He 
seems to have been using a common popular saying or 
proverb found nearly two centuries earlier in the 
reformist political speeches of Tiberius Gracchus at Rome. 

In Rome, too, the new chaos of unrestraint set class 
against class and faction against faction. For a long 



62 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

lifetime faction and class hatred boiled over in civil 
war after civil war, each spasm usually followed by a 
great massacre of prominent members of the losing side. 
A man born shortly after 100 B.C. would have heard from 
his father of the fierce agitation, the riots and the political 
murders stirred up by the attempted reforms of the 
Gracchus brothers. His babyhood would have coincided 
with the "social war," when for the first time a large 
group of the Italian allies of Rome turned against her. 
As a boy he would have seen the ten years of war between 
Marius and Sulla and their fearful massacres ; he might 
have just been old enough to fight in Sulla's last campaign. 
As a mature man he might have served in the four years 
of strife between Caesar and Pompey. His early sixties 
would have been contemporary with Caesar's assassination 
and another civil war fought between Brutus and 
Cassius factions on one side, Octavius and Antony on 
the other. Before he was seventy the two victors, 
Antony and Octavius, would have quarrelled and would 
have fought still another civil war until Octavius had 
crushed Antony and had become the master of the 
Roman state. By this time no living man could 
remember a time of political stability or of peace. 

A passage in Vergil's Georgics (I, 489, etc.) gives us 
vividly the despairing horror with which men saw the 
Roman civil wars : 

"Therefore Philippi saw Roman armies turn their 
swords against each other a second time in battle, and 
the gods felt no pity -that Emathia and the broad plains 
of Haemus should twice be fattened with our blood. . . . 

"Gods of our fathers, gods of our country, god of 
our city, goddess of our hearths who watchest over 
Tuscan Tiber and Roman Palatine, forbid not this last 
saviour to succour our fallen generation. Our blood has 
flowed too long. We have paid in full for the sins of 
our forefathers the broken faith of ancient Troy. . . . 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 63 

"The bonds are broken between neighbour cities 
and they meet in arms. Ungodly war rages the world 
over. The chariots launched on the race gather speed as 
they go ; vainly dragging on the reins, the driver is swept 
away by his steeds and the team heeds not the bridle." 

No society suffering from a prolonged overdose of 
war can fail to understand the last sentence ; all men 
so afflicted have felt that events had escaped from human 
control. The passage also shows why statesmen capable 
of establishing a genuine peace are popular at such 

times. 

* * * * * 

Under the name of Augustus, Octavius now 
reorganized the Roman state, and in so doing established 
the first and strictest limitation of war in history. On 
the political side his chief innovation was to have himself 
elected " Imperator " (Commander-in-Chief of the army) 
for life. On the technical military side, although 
armament and factics^remained much what they had 
been, the civil war and especially the distant conquests 
had changed the Roman army from a universal service 
militia of conscript citizens to a volunteer professional 
army serving for pay and plunder. Militiamen long kept 
in the field must be paid or their families become a public 
charge ; distant expeditions against enemies weaker than 
one's own state are best conducted by long-service 
volunteers. Thus there had appeared the beginning of a 
separation between the army and the general citizen 
body. Just before 100 B.C., under Marius, an important 
step had been taken : whereas formerly each soldier on 
enlistment had been required to swear fidelity to the 
state, since Marius' time the men had been made to swear 
fidelity to their " Imperator," i.e. their Commander-in- 
Chief. A generation later Caesar had been able to quell 
a mutiny by addressing his soldiers as " citizens," instead 
of " comrades." The shift from republic to empire was 



64 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

accomplished by making permanent over the whole 
army the magistracy which had been temporary and 
local. 

Augustus continued the professional army but cut 
its numbers almost in half. Finding forty-five legions of 
heavy infantry in existence, he reduced them to twenty- 
five. If one figures a legion at six thousand men, this left 
a possible maximum of one hundred and fifty thousand 
legionaries ; the legion has been figured as low as three 
thousand. For cavalry and light infantry the Rom&ns 
had come to depend on " auxiliary " units raised by their 
allies ; normally an army would contain about an equal 
number of legionaries and auxiliaries. Augustus continued 
the auxiliary system and seems to have continued the 
proportion between the two sorts of troops. Thus the 
entire Mediterranean world was policed by an army of not 
much over three hundred thousand men ; in the recent 
war against Germany little Serbia alone mobilized over 
seven hundred thousand. 

Of course, no such tiny force could have met grave 
military liabilities. Dangerous civilized opposition was to 
be feared only along the short Euphrates sector between 
the Armenian and the Syrian desert. There formidable 
foes, the Parthians and later the Persians, were to be 
found. But elsewhere beyond Rome's vast frontiers 
there were only deserts, or northern forests thinly peopled 
with shifting tribes whose small numbers, lack of 
organization, and total lack of national or racial solidarity 
made them contemptible antagonists. The only pressure 
to be expected from them was that of mere raiding parties 
intent upon enjoying the fruits of civilization without 
submitting to the discipline which civilization must 
necessarily impose. An occasional defeat at the hands of 
the northern tribesmen in no way threatened the Roman 
state. To Rome such defeats were little more than the 
Custer massacre to the United States or the fall of 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 65 

Khartoum and the death of Gordon to England. Man- 
power was economized by resting the frontiers on natural 
obstacles where these could be found, by an elaborate 
network of roads over which intelligence could be quickly 
transmitted and troops easily moved, later by lavish 
frontier fortification as well. 

Again, the little imperial army, stationed almost 
entirely along the frontiers, could not have policed so vast 
a state had that state been morally divided. In a negative 
sense the empire was unified by the absence of strong 
local feeling. The old city loyalties had disappeared 
with time, and only little Judaea had anything like a 
modern nationalist spirit. Elsewhere the populace was 
content to call the emperor a god. Indeed, one cannot 
read poets like Vergil and Horace without appreciating 
that even educated men saw something godlike in the 
new peace of the world. Notwithstanding the excesses 
of the later republic, Roman administrators were not 
essentially oppressors any more than British civil 
servants in India or French magistrates in North Africa ; 
the Roman law was inspired by a fine sense of equity and 
fairness. Augustus' work bore fruit in the moral unity 
of the Roman world. 

Moreover, on the technical side insurrection was less 
and less to be feared as time went on because the 
professional army system permitted the disarmament of 
the great mass of citizens, who grew more and more 
unsoldierly as the Roman peace became the habit of 
civilized mankind. 

The Roman world continued the professional army 
system for no less than eight centuries ; in the provinces 
still subject to New Rome, i.e. Constantinople, it went 
on for four centuries more. In the third century, however, 
the old plague of civil war broke out again in a milder 
form. The mass of men had now grown so unwarlike 
that any local commander whose troops would follow 



66 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

him had a chance to make himself emperor ; the soldiers 
were now almost the only " active citizens " whose support 
was necessary to authority. The new civil wars were not 
as destructive as the old ; usually they were fought " over 
the heads" of the civilians, who were harmed only 
incidentally and almost by accident. At the same time 
the need of emperors to conciliate the troops led to the 
first signs of weakening of the iron Roman discipline. 
Worse still, the distraction of the army by civil strife 
would now and then give the northern barbarians a 
chance to raid a province. Although these looters would 
have to run or be cut to pieces as soon as the little 
difficulty as to the imperial succession was cleared up, 
still as something of Roman civilization spread to them 
their pressure slightly increased. Accordingly, more 
troops had to be raised, until about the year 400 the total 
number in service almost certainly exceeded half a million, 
and may have reached three quarters of a million. Even 
that, however, would not be a large army for the entire 
Roman world. 

By this time the Roman army was not altogether 
what it had been under Augustus. By an interesting 
process of interaction between social and technical 
military factors cavalry were becoming more important 
than infantry. In the first place, for four centuries the 
service had been chiefly a constabulary. For hunting 
brigands and raiders or against any sort of irregular 
opposition mobility is needed. The United States found 
mounted troops better than foot in fighting the plains 
Indians, and the same general law is seen at work in most 
colonial armies. At the same time the slight lowering of 
discipline had been enough to lessen the effectiveness of 
the legions ; only well-disciplined infantry will stand the 
moral effect of a cavalry charge at close quarters the 
experience is like being on a railroad track as a train 
comes on. To get fifth-century Roman foot to hold firm 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 67 

against a mounted charge it was necessary to mass them 
closely and arm them with spears to keep the horsemen 
at a distance. In turn the close formations and the use 
of the spear showed a lessening of the offensive spirit. 
Cavalry, therefore, became the offensive arm. 

The second change was an increase in the importance 
of barbarian recruitment. We have seen that the cavalry 
of the imperial armies were "Auxiliaries" recruited 
arpong non-citizens ; the rise of cavalry, therefore, meant 
a greater relative strength of the barbarian or " irregular " 
element in the Roman service as compared with the heavy 
legionary foot. The light-armed auxiliary infantry were 
also more mobile than legionaries. Further, barbarians 
were cheaper to hire than civilized men ; their standard 
of living was lower. They had something of the schoolboy 
personal loyalty to a leader, so that they were apt to be 
faithful to their original employer in case of civil war. 
Finally, the legionaries, but not the auxiliaries, were 
expected to build roads, drain marshes, etc. ; therefore 
as public spirit declined the latter attracted recruits. 
The distinction between citizen and non-citizen recruit- 
ment seems never to have been strictly enforced. 

Cavalry and barbarian recruitment increased in 
importance only gradually ; meanwhile the Roman army 
remained professional, and until after A.D. 400 continued 
successfully to defend the frontiers. 

In the fifth century centralized administration was 
lost throughout the western half of the empire, but not 
through defeat of the Roman forces. There were great 
barbarian invasions, like that of Attila, which must have 
been highly organized, but they were turned back. 
Except for the southern and eastern coasts of England 
and a belt south of the upper Danube, no savages from 
the outer darkness ever permanently appropriated Roman 
land. The leaders of the Goths, Vandals, Franks, etc., 
whose states appear in our historical geographies, were 



68 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

simply hereditary commanders of auxiliary units in the 
Roman service. Except the Vandal, and except for 
Alaric the Goth during his brief and somewhat pardonable 
mutiny, no fifth-century auxiliary commander ever made 
war against an emperor ; all the others took and held 
their power as deputies more or less vaguely dependent 
upon the emperors in Rome or in Constantinople. They 
and their units were as ready to join the Roman regulars 
against barbarian invaders as are the native troops of 
the French and British armies to-day. Most of them, 
for instance men like Alaric or Clovis the Frank, were no 
more barbarian than an American of to-day whose 
grandfather immigrated from Europe is European. The 
old tribal names of their units had become mere labels, 
as those units had been moved to and fro across the 
empire filling up their losses by replacements first from 
one district and then from another. Their assumption 
of local government, together with the breakdown of 
centralized administration in the West, were only steps, 
although important steps, in a long and very gradual 
process of the internal decay of civilization. Even when 
Alaric's mutinous auxiliaries sacked Rome itself, although 
St. Jerome far away in Jerusalem did write, " I am at a 
loss for words," no other contemporary writer seems to 
have been greatly shocked. If we ask the reasons for 
this decline we find only a general fatigue ; apparently the 
slave-owners were no longer able to get a full day's work 
out of their slaves, just as the capitalist to-day most of 
all in the older capitalist countries, such as England 
cannot get full measure out of his proletarians. 

At this point a question suggests itself : we have seen 
that the Roman world state with its drastic limitation 
of war involved the disarmament of the great mass of 
free citizens. As century followed century this mass had 
grown increasingly unwarlike. In the fifth and sixth 
centuries, notwithstanding the general insecurity which 



THE ANCIENT CYCLE OF WAR 69 

had necessitated the fortification of every city, it was 
difficult to get the inhabitants of a town even to mount 
guard on their own walls. For instance, an edict of an 
Emperor, Valentinian III, is headed " On the recall of 
General-dealers [wholesale merchants ?] to the city," and 
says, " We have determined that all anxiety or fear shall 
be removed from your minds, that the public shall 
know . . . that no citizen of Rome and no member of a guild 
is to be compelled to serve as a soldier, but only on guard 
duty on the walls and gates, as often as custom may 
demand . . . ." Is it possible that the inevitable 
absence of patriotism in a world state, together with 
the long-continued exemption from military service of 
almost everyone in the Roman world, helped to cause the 
general slackening of energy ? Such exemption would be 
complete among the upper class and the industrious middle 
class, for a professional army always tends to recruit 
itself from the cheapest human material to be found. Does 
the vitality, at least of white peoples, flag when they are 
too long and too completely divorced from arms ? Did 
the too great perfection of the Roman peace help to 
cause the decline of ancient civilization and the descent 
to the Dark Ages ? 



PART II 
THE CHRISTIAN CYCLE OF WAR 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 

DURING the Dark Ages the moral centre of the Roman 
world shifted from the emperor to the Catholic, that is 
Universal, Christian Church, from which body either 
directly or at second-hand the moral forces of Western 
civilization have since come. 

Shortly before the year 200 the Catholic Church first 
appears in the full light of history, and after a little more 
than a century the conversion of the imperial government 
prevented the emperors being longer saluted as gods ; 
moreover, the Christian ethics finally came to have greater 
force than those of any legal code. The Church claimed 
to have been founded by a Man who had also been God ; 
His teaching was held to be perfectly true, and from the 
beginnings of clear record concerning His followers they 
were a strictly organized body, passionately devoted to 
unity, both of doctrine and of organization. The imperial 
idea long retained enormous power, but as century 
followed century men gradually came to think of them- 
selves more as Christians than as subjects of the emperors. 

The Christian cycle of war begins with the breakdown 
of the technical limitation within which the Roman 
Empire had confined war and its replacement by a new 
technical limitation, the medieval, built upon the new 
moral unity furnished by the Church. 

* * * * * 

In the year A.D. 632, as a certain former camel-driver 
named Mohammed lay dying in an obscure ArkBIaffTown 

73 



74 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

the Roman world was still intact. Its population, arts, 
culture and energy had indeed declined, but with the 
doubtful and partial exception of Britain its civilization 
and social habit were everywhere still Roman, most of 
it was still directly administered by the emperor at 
Constantinople, and all of it was united by the omnipresent 
Catholic Church which had become its chief institution. 
Both the emperor and the new local rulers in the West 
relied upon professional armies, and everywhere the 
masses, having now been systematically disarmed for 
nearly seven centuries, had become completely unwarlike. 
Within a single long lifetime the fanatical Moslems had 
overrun Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Spain, had twice 
besieged Constantinople, and were preparing to attack 
what is to-day Central France. When at last their armies 
were repulsed and they were no longer able to advance 
their borders, they remained none the less hostile, merely 
turning from conquest to plunder. Presently they were 
joined by another and even worse sort of raiders: the 
heathen Vikings from Scandinavia began to attack the 
West apparently enough civilization had at last reached 
the distant north to permit the building of sea-going 
boats. The skilfully-handled Viking ships entered every 
harbour and ascended every navigable river. Moreover, 
the Vikings understood the importance of mobility and 
surprise ; whenever they left their boats they began by 
rounding up horses from the country-side. They were 
horribly cruel, killing and torturing for pleasure, hating 
the weakened Roman world and especially the Catholic 
Church. The Christians despised them as much as they 
hated them, but in that impoverished time with its bad 
communications the professional army system inherited 
from Augustus eight centuries before could no longer 
protect the West. So sheep-like had the mass of men 
become that we read of tiny Viking bands pillaging 
populous districts almost unopposed until the tardy 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 75 

arrival of troops. Mere thieves though they were, it 
seemed as if they would sting the debased Roman society 
of the West to death. 

Just in time a remedy was found by reorganizing all 
Western Christendom for local defence. The decisive 
phase of the change seems to have come in the ninth 
century between the years 800 and 900. Unlike the 
imperial system of Augustus, the new arrangements were 
not deliberately planned ; they arose more or less 
urliformly everywhere as makeshifts to fit the universal 
need of the rude time. At the base of society every free 
man must arm himself at his own expense ; there must 
be no more unarmed country-sides to tempt heathen 
pillagers. The ancient universal liability for service, 
which had never disappeared from legal theory, was 
again enforced. Society was knit together by the 
arrangement known as feudalism. All government 
offices became hereditary possessions ; in every village 
the local rich man was recognized as almost a little king. 
Every free man became the " vassal " of his local lord, 
swearing to defend the lord and his lands if attacked, and 
receiving the promise of protection in return. In the 
same way the local lord took a similar oath to a greater 
overlord and the overlord to a king. After a dim fashion, 
kings were supposed to depend upon the emperor. 

The head and heart of the new system was a fighting 
aristocracy. The remaining wealth of the age, in so far 
as it was not in the hands of the Church, was held chiefly 
by a landed class, whose predecessors had been the landed 
magnates of the high imperial time. The men of this 
class now turned soldiers. Much of their incomes, derived 
from the rents of their free tenants and from the dues of 
their serfs, they spent on households of armed men. They 
fortified their country houses ; just as our word village is 
derived from the Roman " villa/' so our word castle is the 
Latin " castellum " a little fort. They themselves spent 



76 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

much of their time in practising with weapons. Over 
and above the obligations of religion, the code by which 
they lived was that of military honour. 

The medieval gentleman preferred to fight on 
horseback. As the old Greek word " hoplite," originally 
" an armed man," had come to mean an armoured 
infantryman, so in the early Middle Ages the Latin word 
"miles," a soldier, was translated into the new local 
languages as " knight," cavalier, chevalier, or caballero, 
meaning a cavalryman, and particularly an armoured 
cavalryman, who was now the soldier par excellence. 
Chivalry was conduct becoming a mounted warrior. 
Each knight had at least two armed attendants, a " squire " 
to help him on and off with his armour and a " groom " to 
care for the horses. In an offensive action the fully- 
armoured knights were expected to do most of the work 
by mounted charges, thus continuing the tactical 
tradition of the armies of the later Roman Empire. On 
the defensive the knights would dismount and form the 
front rank, with the poorer freemen, unable to afford full 
armour or a horse, drawn up in a dense mass behind them. 
The men of a few poverty-stricken districts like Ireland 
or Scotland fought on foot, and elsewhere the larger cities 
had steady militias capable of a solid defensive, but the 
armoured cavalryman was the typical soldier. 

The feudal horsemen broke the Saracen raiders. They 
turned back the great Viking harry, the worst peril our 
civilization has ever known, convincing those sea thieves 
who wished to remain in Christian lands that it was 
better to accept baptism and be digested into the body of 
Christendom. Shortly after the crisis of the Viking raids 
the reorganized West repulsed a third attack, that of 
the heathen Magyars, cruel Mongol horse-bowmen of an 
amazing mobility. These successes won, energy came 
back to Christendom like a great flood-tide. About the 
year 1000, after so many centuries of exhaustion, our 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 77 

European culture shot up in a happy hopefulness like 
that of the Greeks fifteen centuries ago. 

Much of the new vigour of Christendom was due to 
the success with which the early Middle Ages limited war. 
It is true that every freeman was armed, every gentleman 
not in Holy Orders thought of himself as a soldier, and 
the independence of the feudal lords led to plenty of local 
scuffles. Also the want of good communications and an 
organized police system permitted occasional banditry 
and disorder. The best-known early medieval poem, 
The Song of Roland, is all about fighting and the loyalty 
or occasional treachery of vassals. Still the happy result 
was obtained. Politically and technically wars were 
limited in time by the nature of the feudal obligation. 
A lord whose lands were attacked had a right to hold his 
vassals under arms until the invaders should be repulsed, 
but one bent on an offensive campaign in someone else's 
lands could keep his vassals in the field for only forty days 
in the year. After that he had to pay them, and medieval 
social and economic arrangements made this very 
difficult. In common with almost all ancient peoples, 
except the Romans of the later republic and empire, 
medieval men forbade as usury the charging of any 
interest on an economically unproductive loan. Accord- 
ingly wars had to be financed from taxes. In turn, 
custom made taxes difficult to raise, for while vassals 
were theoretically taxable " at the mercy " of their lord, 
it was thought an outrage which only a man of monstrous 
wickedness would commit to raise the moderate dues 
demanded of the serfs who had replaced the ancient 
slaves at the base of the social pyramid. Just so, between 
the greater vassals and their overlords or kings there was 
a strong feeling that " the king should live of his own," 
that is he should find money for his ordinary undertakings 
out of the rents and servile dues of the lands which he 
directly owned as a private individual and out of the 



78 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

customary feudal dues owed him by his vassals. Any 
additional moneys paid him from time to time on 
extraordinary occasions by his vassals were considered 
as free grants which might be given or withheld at the 
vassal's will. All told, therefore, the shortness of feudal 
service and the difficulty of raising money made it almost 
impossible to wage offensive war on a large scale or for 
any length of time. To undertake a short campaign was 
hardly worth while, for in the absence of disciplined 
infantry trained in siege work each of the innumerable 
castles could stand a long siege. Still another technical 
and economic limitation was the high cost of full armour ; 
a suit of it was worth a small farm. Accordingly the fully- 
armoured horsemen, whom we have seen to have been 
the medieval soldiers par excellence, could not be 
indefinitely increased in numbers. For centuries their 
superiority to unarmoured men was enormous ; although 
they could not break a determined infantry defensive in 
close formation, as the modern tank to which they have 
often been likened since 1916 can break infantry in the 
open and without artillery, still they were formidable 
enough to justify the comparison. We have seen that 
they were expected to furnish the chief strength of an 
attacking force. Besides the restrictions on numbers 
and length of service, another economic arrangement 
limiting the intensity of medieval war was that of 
ransom. If you killed a hostile knight his son owed you 
nothing but hatred. If you captured him he would buy 
his liberty with as large a sum as he could possibly 
raise. Accordingly it paid better to take prisoners than 
to kill. 

The moral forces limiting war among Christian men 
drew their strength from the religious unity of the time. 
Christendom was one country, the difference between 
the men of one district and another was nothing to that 
3f infidel and Christian. It is true that about A.D. 1050 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 79 

the Church was divided between East and West, leaving 
the Western Patriarchate under the Pope of Rome out of 
communion with the three Eastern Patriarchates ; but a 
feeling of separation between the rank and file of the 
Orthodox or Greek Church on one side and the Latin or 
Roman Church on the other was slow to develop. West 
of the Adriatic religious unity prevailed. Accordingly 
religious influence was able to do much to lessen the 
destructive effect of war upon society. Sometimes this 
was done by arrangements such as the Truce of God, 
which forbade fighting on or near church property, and 
all attacks on clerics, pilgrims, merchants, women, 
peasants, cattle and agricultural implements. Throughout 
most of Christendom the truce extended from Wednesday 
evening to Monday morning in every week, leaving only 
three days and two nights for war between nobles. Even 
these three days were ruled out during Lent, Advent, the 
three great feasts of Our Lady, the Apostles, and certain 
other Saints. Further, in a society acknowledging 
Christian morals, bandits and robber barons were working 
against the grain ; everyone agreed that their deeds were 
evil, and their brutalities were denounced so that they 
were morally always on the defensive. We may compare 
medieval Europe with ancient Carthage or Aztec Mexico, 
where no one seems to have denounced human sacrifice. 
The moral unity of the Middle Ages also limited territorial 
quarrels between governments ; no right of conquest was 
admitted between Christian men, and disputes as to who 
should govern a given district arose only when it was 
doubtful which claimant had the better hereditary right. 
Men being what they are, such claims might now and 
again be false and hypocritical, but they were by no means 
negligible ; unless an aggressor could show some solid 
appearance of right on his side he was at a grave 
disadvantage. 

Great wars were rare because they had to be fought by 



80 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

volunteer armies, and a good moral cause was needed to 
attract large numbers of volunteers. 

One such great war was William the Conqueror's 
campaign of 1066. William, Duke of Normandy, had 
been designed by the childless King Edward the Confessor 
of England to succeed him, and William's claim had been 
solemnly acknowledged by Harold, who nevertheless 
seized the crown on Edward's death. William was 
therefore morally able to raise a considerable army by 
putting himself at the head of a sort of vast partnership 
or stock company formed to enforce his right to the 
English crown, he promising English lands to those who 
would support him. This he would have a right to do, 
because in feudal theory all land was owned by the king, 
who could grant parts of it to whomsoever he might 
choose as vassals, the great vassals in turn sub-granting 
it to smaller men. Supporting a usurper was good reason 
for confiscation whenever a king saw fit. Sailing from 
Normandy at the end of September, William landed in 
England, defeated and killed Harold in a general action 
at Hastings in mid-October. The battle was hard fought 
and included about fifty thousand men on a side. But it 
finished the business, making William King of England 
and leaving him with no more than a few years of local 
uprisings, chiefly against the occasional misconduct of 
some of his officials and soldiers. The time being 
completely without national feeling, the country presently 
settled down under his government. 

The chief military work of the Middle Ages was 
against the infidel. Through their earlier centuries men 
were continually volunteering to help the Spanish 
Christians reconquer Spain from the Moors. The Song 
of Roland tells of a Spanish campaign of Charlemagne's. 
Next came the Crusades to recover Jerusalem, some of 
them on a great scale ; the First Crusade is said to have 
mustered from six to three hundred thousand men. Even 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 51 

if one shares the old-fashioned and now diminishing 
contempt of nineteenth-century scholars for medieval 
historians, still such figures from such a time indicate the 
great military effort. Moreover, the intensity of the 
struggle was that of " unlimited " war ; the priests with 
the First Crusade asked leave to fight, and when the 
higher clergy of the army denied them this pleasure they 
! said in effect : " At |easLgiY&;u&-kmves so that we can go 
out and cut the throats of the Mohammedan wounded ! " 
Evidently they f elFffiat mopping up aT^YaiTattack could 
not fairly be called fighting. Also the earlier crusading 
time saw frequent massacres. Nevertheless, just as the 
Greek wars against Orientals and the great Roman 
campaigns of conquest were fruitful wars, leaving 
civilization higher and society stronger than before, so 
in their own way the Crusades were not destructive but 
fruitful. Their great effort was put forth in accordance 
with the moral feeling of Christendom. Although the 
tragic religious separation of Eastern from Western 
Christendom helped to cause the final defeat of the 
Crusades to Palestine which ended in the loss of 
Jerusalem and failure to reconquer the Holy City, 
nevertheless these Palestinian Crusades helped to knit 
Europe together, gave new energy to our race, and taught 
the West new arts, stimulating both commerce and the 
intelligence. In Spain, where Christian energies were 
undivided, the Christians won, and later in the Middle 
Ages a third successful crusading theatre was opened up, 
heathen Prussia and Lithuania. 

The professional soldier, typical of war throughout 
the first eight Christian centuries, did not entirely 
disappear. Byzantine armies remained professional until 
the thirteenth century, they even maintained the high 
organization of the old Roman service and kept its 
tactical tradition until the loss of Asia Minor in 1071. 
In the West hired soldiers were limited in numbers, 



82 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

thanks to the economic arrangements of the time. A 
few were to be found in the military households or 
body-guards of the kings. Also the military inconvenience 
of the short feudal service was such that there was a 
small floating class of cosmopolitan mercenaries ready to 
hire out to any prince who would pay sad dogs, cordially 
hated, for they were largely bandits when in service 
and bandits pure and simple when unemployed. 
Occasionally they would decide a campaign ; in 1215 
King John of England checked his rebellious nobles 
and saved his dynasty by the use of such forces. For 
centuries, however, they were altogether subordinate to 
feudal troops. 

The best testimony to the success of the medieval 
limitation of war is the great increase in the population 
and wealth of Christendom in the three hundred and 
fifty years between 1000 and about the middle of the 
fourteenth century, an increase which cannot be accounted 
for by any advance in physical science comparable to 
that of the modern world. No such achievements as 
the glorious Gothic churches of the thirteenth century, 
unequalled throughout human history for the variety 
and vividness of their sculpture, nor the majestic order 
and serenity of St. Thomas Aquinas' philosophy could 
have appeared in an age exhausted by war or any other 

cause. 

***** 

The medieval scheme declined. In 1188 the loss of 
Jerusalem struck its confidence a heavy blow. In 1204 
the crusading enthusiasm was perverted to the capture 
of Christian Constantinople, perpetuating the quarrel 
between the Latin and Greek Churches. Soon after 1300 , 
the Papacy, the organ of moral unity and moral authority 
in the West, having reduced to a shadow the Holy Roman 
Empire which had stood for unity in secular govern- 
ments, over-reached itself in its claim to supremacy over 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 83 

all lay governments, was humiliated and, in a sense, 
captured by the French Crown. These things, however, 
were but preliminaries. Shortly before 1350 there began 
the Hundred Years' War between the Kings of France 
and the French-speaking Plantagenet House who were 
already Kings of England, and now claimed the right 
to rule in France as well. 

The Hundred Years' War shows clearly how far the 
Middle Ages had weakened and yet how much of their 
limitation of war remained. First the claim of the 
Plantagenet Edward III, although by no means an empty, 
trumped-up thing like Frederick of Prussia's claim to 
Silesia in 1740 or similar aggressions since then, was 
nevertheless far-fetched, and the armies which supported 
it were no longer feudal ; they were volunteer forces 
raised under royal " Commissions of Array/' and their 
wages could be found for considerable periods, thanks 
to an increasing development of royal finance. Money 
economy was developing, and vassals were more and 
more willing to pay their overlords for exemption from 
armed feudal service. The soldier's rate of pay was 
high, especially toward the end ; in the campaign of 
Agincourt Henry V's archers were getting three times 
the wages of a skilled labourer. Much of the Plantagenet 
strength consisted of middle class infantry armed with 
a new and powerful weapon, the long-bow. Not only 
organization but also strategy showed a new spirit. 
With paid troops at their command the Plantagenets 
unable to conquer France were content to harass those 
over whom they claimed to rule, making war pay by 
raiding and pillage, ransoming towns and captured 
individuals. At the same time the new day surrounded 
the miserable business with a theatrical atmosphere of 
chivalry, typified by grotesque exaggerations of costume 
and the pageantry of arms. Toward the end of the long 
affair still another degradation appears : a systematic 



84 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

and cold-blooded cruelty morally baser than the mere 
brutality of the Dark and early Middle Ages. Thus at 
Agincourt Henry V's success at the beginning of the battle 
left him with a great number of prisoners, including many 
of the noblest blood of France. Fearing lest his prisoners 
might be tempted to rise in aid of a possible renewal 
of the French attack, he ordered them all to be killed. 
When, partly from j>ity and partly from unwillingness 
to lose the rich ransom of so many noble captives, 
the English hesitated, Henry had the helpless men 
systematically knocked on the head by archers of his 
own body-guard. The continued fighting naturally 
produced distress ; in Paris toward the end of the long 
struggle men starved and wolves approached the city. 

And yet, notwithstanding the long agony of the 
Hundred Years' War, it by no means marked a complete 
breakdown of the medieval limitations. The armies 
were not large ; although Edward III at Crecy had 
twenty-six thousand, the Black Prince at Poitiers had 
no more than seven to eight thousand, and Henry V at 
Agincourt only eleven thousand. On the moral side 
the Papacy was continually trying to arrange a peace. 
Nor did the three generations of medieval fighting cause 
any such lasting social disturbance as the far shorter 
great wars of ancient and modern times. In the thirty- 
five years' interval of peace between 1380 and 1415 France 
quickly became prosperous again ; and when the English 
were finally driven out the single reign of Louis XI 
again made her immensely rich as the innumerable 
churches built in the flamboyant Gothic, with their 
wealth of carved stone-work, abundantly testify. 

About the middle of the fourteenth century, shortly 
after the beginning of the Hundred Years' War, there 
occurred the Black Death, a plague which carried off 
millions half of the adult population in many districts 
of Europe. Under the strain naturally following such a 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 85 

disaster the peasants for by this time most of the 
former serfs were in social fact, although not yet in legal 
theory, free peasants rose against the feudal landed 
gentry. A flash of the " all men are equal " idea, with 
its inevitable accompaniment of class hatred, appears 
in these revolts, for instance in the couplet sung by the 
English rebels : 

" When Adam delved and I?ve span 
Who was then the gentleman ? " 

It is striking testimony to the strength of medieval 
social and military arrangements that, notwithstanding 
a disaster on a scale calculated to dissolve the most 
civilized communities, the rebellions were soon ended. 
We have seen that, unlike the commercial rich of to-day, 
the medieval gentleman was a soldier, that he and his 
retainers with their specialized equipment great war 
horses, complete armour, etc were immensely superior 
to undisciplined and loosely-organized peasants. In 
France, where the revolt was known as the " Jacquerie," 
the feudal gentry were particularly successful in putting 
it down by arms. Meanwhile, the underlying moral unity 
of the time remained, so that (after the suppression of the 
various local rebellions) enough of the peasants' grievances 
were redressed so that there were no more peasants' 
revolts in Europe for more than four hundred years. 

The Hundred Years' War and the Black Death with 
its subsequent peasant risings were not the only great 
disasters of the later Middle Ages. Other misfortunes, 
not directly military, weakened the moral and social 
system on which the medieval limitations of war reposed. 
There was a long division between rival claimants for 
the central organ of moral authority, the Papacy, which 
fell into a corruption shared in varying degrees by the 
body of the Church throughout Europe. The upper 
classes became increasingly wicked and cynical. Where 



86 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

individuals remained pious their piety was of a twisted 
sort, so tainted by superstition that able men like the 
cruel soldier Henry V of England and the prudent and 
cunning Louis XI of France were not quite sane. Cruelty 
continued to increase. In the New York Metropolitan 
Art Museum there is a magnificently worked fifteenth- 
century tapestry representing soldiers and prisoners. 
One soldier, having bound a wretch hand and foot and 
forced him to kneel, is deliberately disembowelling him ! 
Several other disembowelled corpses are shown. The 
scene is thought to show the Roman capture of Jerusalem, 
at which Roman soldiers cut open certain wealthy Jews 
thought to have swallowed valuable jewels. But 
certainly a time in which such an artist would choose 
such a scene took a perverted delight in horrors. No 
wonder that the note of the fifteenth century is one of 
gloom. Late medieval society felt itself borne down 
by many calamities. 

Meanwhile, the trading class gained ground, more 
and more claiming the right to enrich themselves as they 
chose, irrespective of the effect of their trafficking upon 
society. Backed by the middle class traders or business 
men, the kings also increased in power at the expense 
of the priests and nobles. In part the rise of royalty 
corresponded to the greater complexity of civilization ; 
we have seen that the change from a customary to a 
money economy increased the financial strength of the 
central governments ; in part the new reverence paid 
to kings came because here and there the monarchies 
incarnated a new moral force, national sentiment. 
In so far as men gradually forgot the old ideal of a united 
Christendom and prided themselves on being Englishmen, 
Frenchmen, or Spaniards, they came to reverence the 
old royal houses which had been for centuries chief 
among the nobles and now were beginning to stand for 
the administrative and moral unity of whole provinces. 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 87 

In the fifteenth century, toward the end of the Hundred 
Years' War, the French Crown took the important step 
of raising a standing army among their own subjects. 
The new national force, the "Ordonnance Companies" 
was not large, only nine thousand at full strength. It 
contained a large noble element, like any typical medieval 
unit. But it was permanent and regularly paid by the 
kings, and the principle it embodied was to determine 
the future. At the other end of Europe, under very 
different conditions, the new Mohammedan power of the 
Ottoman Turks also raised a small but formidable standing 
army, the Janissaries. 

The social and spiritual changes naturally had their 
effects on warfare. The weakening of moral unity, based 
upon religion, began to cause faint but unmistakable 
signs of exasperating the quarrels between kings into 
quarrels between peoples as well. The Hundred Years' 
War which had begun as a dispute between two French- 
speaking families over a feudal inheritance ended in 
something remotely like a national war. The new 
financial power of governments, based on the taxes 
levied upon the traders, gave an increased ability to hire 
mercenaries. Of these some were armoured cavalry of 
the old type, but towards the end of the fifteenth century 
we also begin to find trained infantry such as had not 
been since the decline of Rome, well able to manoeuvre 
and capable of attacking feudal horse. 

We have seen that medieval armies on the defensive 
in the open were accustomed to dismount. The English 
long-bowmen were always used in connection with 
mounted or dismounted knights. Also the Middle Ages 
had seen occasional victories won by true infantry, by 
Scotchmen too poor to afford horses or Flemish town 
militia, but these battles Bannockburn, Courtrai had 
been gained by short counter-attacks after the feudal 
cavalry had exhausted itself in persistent and unsuccessful 



88 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

offensives. True attacking infantry now reappeared in 
Switzerland. The Swiss, by a persistence in drill equalled 
only by their persistence in rifle-shooting to-day, actually 
taught themselves to move regularly and rapidly in large, 
deep formations, although armed with one of the 
clumsiest of weapons, the long two-handed pike. This 
accomplishment, together with the natural combativeness 
of the mountaineers, enabled them first to free themselves 
from their feudal lords and then to become the chief 
reservoir of mercenaries in Europe. Before 1500 there 
were also trained Spanish foot, with a different tactic 
based on the sword and buckler like Roman legionaries, 
and soon afterwards units of German mercenary foot are 
found copying the Swiss method. 

The rise of infantry had been preceded by a decline 
in armoured cavalry; these last had lost the art of 
manoeuvre before the foot re-discovered it. In the Dark 
and Early Middle Ages armour had been of chain-mail 
backed by leather or wadding, the whole flexible and 
light enough to permit of long marches and rapid battle 
movements. The early medieval cavalry could not only 
make astonishing marches, like John of England's eighty- 
mile dash from Le Mans to Mirebeau in forty-eight 
hours in 1202 with relays of horses, but even so, what 
riding ! They were also capable of rapid and precise drill 
movements like de Montfort's at Muret in 1213. The 
replacement of chain-mail by plate-armour for men and 
horse so overloaded the mount that manoeuvring 
became impossible ; the over-weighted beasts could not 
so much as turn at a canter without grave risk of falling. 
Even with such a weight of metal you could not armour 
the horse as completely as his rider ; the beast's legs 
and belly had to be left unprotected. Accordingly the 
man-at-arms, who had always been accustomed to 
dismount for a defensive, would now often dismount 
for an attack a practice for which his new and heavier 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 89 

equipment unfitted him. At Agincourt the English, 
to make their French prisoners helpless, had only to 
take the helmets off them. There was no need to tie 
them to prevent their escape, for the ftiud had already 
so tired them that they could not move. The desire 
for safety had produced clumsiness ; in the same fifteenth 
century we begin to hear of men smothered or dying 
of heart failure under the mere weight of their own 
armour. Nevertheless, it was the rise of true infantry, 
well trained and disciplined, which depressed cavalry 
rather than the decline of the latter. 

The rise of infantry was even more important to the 
social and military changes of the time than the discovery 
of gunpowder, as keen observers like Machiavelli clearly 
saw. Even without gunpowder numbers of trained 
foot capable of siege work, like that of the Greeks and 
Romans and backed by governments wealthier than 
those of the Middle Ages, would in any case have shortened 
the long medieval sieges. It is true that cannon 
revolutionized siege warfare ; there was a moment late 
in the fifteenth century when sieges were matters of 
days rather than of weeks or months. However, when 
permanent works were made capable of mounting cannon 
for counter - battery work against the besieger's guns 
sieges again lengthened. These new works had to be 
of considerable area in order to prevent severe con- 
verging fire by the assailant ; accordingly the com- 
paratively small highly-fortified point, the castle, lost 
its value, and the fortified area had to be at least as 
large as a small town. At the same time cannon and 
the musket (so called because of the noise of the bullet, 
from the Italian " moschetto," a little fly, also the 
source of our word " mosquito ") altered open warfare ; 
armour of a useful thickness became too heavy to carry. 
It was symbolic when the Chevalier Bayard, a man 
typical of the older time, was killed by a musket-ball. 



90 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

All told, gunpowder hastened the technical change from 
medieval war which trained infantry and richer 
governments would in any case have brought about. 

The nobles remained warlike ; the earliest Spanish 
and French musketeer units were aristocratic ; even as 
late as the French seventeenth century readers of Dumas 
will remember D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers. 
But as the sixteenth century opened the typical armed 
man was no longer a vassal summoned to armed service 
by a feudal superior, he was paid by the king. Complex 
infantry drill by command had made fighting much 
more of a skilled trade than before, the technical 
superiority of the professional soldier over the feudal 
militiaman was now far greater. Only kings could afford 
the new artillery, which greatly strengthened them 
in suppressing rebellion, for the moral effect of the early 
cannon, crude though they seem to us, was enormous. 
Author after author of the sixteenth century, Rabelais, 
for instance, and Shakespeare, abundantly testify to it. 
Shakespeare marvelled at the soldier's courage in " seeking 
the bubble reputation even at the cannon's mouth " ; 
Rabelais makes his daredevil Friar John say : " Ha ! 
Ha ! I fear nought but the great ordnance." 

No thinking man of to-day, caught as we are in 
national and class divisions, will wonder to hear that 
the medieval ideal of a universal Christendom died hard. 
In the fourteenth century Chaucer had fought creditably 
in the Hundred Years' War against France, but when 
in the Canterbury Tales^ he imagined a good knight he 
said nothing of wars between Christians, but took care 
to tell his readers that his hero had crusaded against 
the heathen Prussians. In the fifteenth century Joan of 
Arc, the incarnation of French patriotism, proposed 
that English and French should stop fighting each other 
and join to recover Jerusalem. Even in the sixteenth 
century Francis I of France talked of crusading to the 



THE MEDIEVAL LIMITATION OF WAR 9 1 

Holy Land. Nevertheless, the old ideal did die ; Francis 
himself in the heat of his quarrel with the Emperor 
Charles V was not ashamed to ally himself with the Turk. 
The names of Francis and Charles bring up the early 
sixteenth-century Italian wars. Around the year 1500, 
while the moral unity of Europe was still doubtfully 
holding together under the corrupt Papacy, Italy was 
the cockpit of Europe. For more than three decades a 
series of wars developed the new technique of arms and 
intensified cruelty. The fighting was chiefly between 
the French and Spanish, who were both trying to conquer 
the rich peninsula, but both sides hired mercenaries 
Swiss, Germans, etc. wherever they could get them. 
At the beginning of the business, when the French had 
beaten the Venetians at Fornovo, the chronicler Commines 
tells how the captured Venetian men-at-arms, when 
knocked down and unable to rise unaided in their heavy 
armour, were butchered by the French servants and 
camp-followers with hatchets, three or four collecting 
about each prostrate victim and beating in the vizor 
of his helmet with repeated hatchet blows, " for otherwise 
they could hardly have been slain, they were so strongly 
armoured. 1 ' There was no peculiarly bitter quarrel 
between the parties, it was merely good fun for such a 
rabble to kill helpless men. Nor did any French gentleman 
see fit to intervene. In these wars we hear of great 
cruelties inflicted on the peasantry, considerable numbers 
of whom were hanged in mere savagery. When fortresses 
were stormed their garrisons were usually massacred. 
Towns taken by assault were mercilessly sacked with 
every sort of outrage ; on one such occasion it was 
thought extremely noble of Bayard to have protected 
certain young ladies from rape. The medieval limitations 
of war, already so weakened, were about to collapse as 
Augustus's professional army system had finally collapsed 
in the ninth century. 



CHAPTER V 

THE WARS OF RELIGION 

AFTER more than fifteen hundred years of strict limits, 
imperfectly limited war approaching that of extermination 
returned to Christendom when the religious movement 
known as the Reformation destroyed the moral unity 
of Western Europe on which the medieval scheme had 
reposed. For more than a hundred years, until the end 
of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, Europe busied itself 
with savage and destructive religious wars. 

At first the full military consequences of the new 
religious movement did not appear. Grave social 
disturbances soon broke out and were savagely repressed 
both in the Germanies and in England, but for some time 
there wa", no heavy fighting on the religious issue. It 
was significant that the governments which had broken 
with the Papacy began to avow new principles ; at 
the coronation of Edward VI of England it was proclaimed 
that the boy prince held his power from God alone and 
owed no moral duty whatsoever to anyone on earth 
which sounded much like Machiavelli. Nevertheless, the 
morally disruptive power of the religious cleavage was 
not immediately felt. The Catholic Emperor Charles V 
stood for religious unity and for the defence of 
Christendom against the Turk ; when in 1527 an army 
of his sacked Rome, threatened the Pope, and murdered 
priests and cardinals right and left, the one rivalry 
between those of the cosmopolitan mercenary ruffians 
who happened to be German Lutherans and those who 
were Catholic Spaniards, or Catholics of other nations, 

92 



THE WARS OF RELIGION 93 

was to see who could grab the most loot and commit the 
greatest atrocities. Such doings were still within the 
framework of late medieval war : comparatively small 
armies of savage hired brutes under leaders of whom 
many were cynically ambitious, some as cruel as their 
men, and even the best unwilling or unable to prevent 
wholesale orgies of destruction and crime. 

Great writers began to damn governments and their 
wars after a fashion unheard since the peace of Augustus 
fifteen centuries before. On the eve of the Reformation 
Erasmus, seeing so many princely coats of arms 
displaying eagles, remarked : " Of all birds the eagle 
alone has seemed to wise men the type of royalty not 
beautiful, not musical, not fit for food, but carnivorous, 
greedy, hateful to all, the curse of all and, with its great 
powers of doing harm, surpassing them in its desire of 
doing it." Rabelais makes his good King Grangousier 
willing to go to almost any length of concession before 
taking up arms against the unjust aggression of the 
foolish Picrochole. Shakespeare, although willing enough 
to do a patriotic battle-piece like Henry V, savagely 
caricatured the generals of his time in the black and 
cynical tragedy of Troilus and Cressida. 

Toward the middle of the sixteenth century, however, 
a powerful new element of popular passion was added 
to the witches' cauldron. Throughout Europe, for the 
first time since Augustus, princes, nobles, scholars and 
religious leaders began dragging the common people into 
their faction fights, stirring them up by the spoken 
and written word, so that the masses came to believe 
it a sacred duty to kill their enemies for the purification 
or preservation of true religion as the case might be. 
The first civil wars between Protestant and Catholic 
were in Germany. Dying down there, they began to 
break out in France ; next it was the turn of Holland, 
which revolted from Spain, and after thirty-seven years 



94 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

of fighting made gaod its independence. It was the 
Calvinism of the Hollanders, together with their desire 
for local independence from Spain, that inspired the 
desperate resistance of the Dutch towns besieged by the 
Spaniards. The few Spaniards could beat any number 
of Dutchmen in the open, but it is a military axiom 
that in position warfare, where there is no opportunity 
for manoeuvre, numerous and enthusiastic troops of low 
military quality can often make a showing against high 
quality units. On the other hand, it was the Catholicism 
of the Parisian populace together with their desire for 
French national unity, which avenged earlier massacres 
of Catholic nobles in the south by the great Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew. 

Naval warfare again became important. Outside of 
the Mediterranean its instrument was the ocean-going 
sailing ship in which the coasts of three-quarters of the 
globe had been discovered within a single long life-time. 
Armed with cannon on the broadside, the victories of 
the sailing fleets not only helped assure Dutch indepen- 
dence from Spain and repulsed the Spanish attack upon 
England, they also affected land warfare because overseas 
trade became a chief source of the wealth by which armies 
could be supported. This was especially true of Spain, 
whose vast stream of bullion from Mexico and Peru 
financed her armies and was as important as the high 
quality of her infantry in her domination of Europe. 
Toward the end of the century, however, although her 
decline was at first unperceived, the dominant military 
power and Catholic cftampion, Spain, was weakening ; 
and no wonder, for she had at the same time been 
defending Christendom against the Turk in the 
Mediterranean, discovering and colonizing half the 
world, and fighting for the Catholic cause in half the 
provinces of Europe, opposing alternately the Protestant 
Germans, the French, the English and the Dutch. 



THE WARS OF RELIGION 95 

In 1593 the French civil wars ended. In just over 
thirty years no less than eight had been fought, most of 
them short, but the eighth lasting ten years, including a 
desperate resistance of Catholic Paris to Henry IV while 
he remained Protestant. The armies on both sides were 
largely of cosmopolitan mercenaries. They were always 
small, usually under twenty thousand ; Henry at his 
strongest commanded only twenty-five thousand ; it was 
not the scale but the duration and intensity of the 
fighting that so shocked contemporaries. 

After such a nightmare opinion naturally hardened 
in favour of order ; a very passion for order flames in 
Malherbe's polished lines to Louis XIII, setting out to 
besiege the Huguenot city of La Rochelle in 1627. The 
poet calls upon the king to exterminate the faction like 
vipers. 

" A hundred Decembers have tarnished the plains, 
And a hundred Aprils painted them with flowers, 
Since their brutal madness has caused among us 
Nothing but tears." 

Rochelle surrendered only when nearly two-thirds 
of its twenty-eight thousand souls were dead, and the 
survivors of its fighting men too weak from starvation 
to use their weapons. 

In 1618, when the long agony of the religious wars 
had already lasted for nearly a century, the Thirty Years' 
War began. On the Catholic side the leader was the 
Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor of Austria, helped by 
his Hapsburg cousin the King of Spain, and by the 
Catholic German states. On the Protestant side there 
were at first only the Protestant German states, but 
later Sweden intervened under her King Gustavus 
Adolphus, one of the great captains of history. Some 
help was received from England and Holland, and more 
important stillboth as deciding the issue and as a 
landmark in European affairs Catholic France under 



96 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Cardinal Richelieu preferred nationalism to religion as a 
political motive, and financed the Protestants from a 
desire to strengthen herself against the Hapsburgs. 

The armies of the Thirty Years' War, although larger 
than those of the French religious wars, were seldom 
very large ; the peace footing of the French standing 
army was only fifteen thousand ; on a war footing 
Sweden could recruit and keep up only the same number. 
Usually the entire forces of both sides were nearer fifty 
than a hundred thousand. The imperialists may once 
have reached a hundred and seventy thousand, a greater 
number than any force since the First Crusade, but that 
figure represented an effort impossible to maintain. To 
concentrate sixty thousand men for battle was an 
extraordinary feat ; Gustavus's first great fight was 
between forces of forty and forty-five thousand, his 
second between twenty and thirty thousand. 

What made the war so terrible was its ferocity. 
Massacres on such a scale and so long continued had 
never been seen in Christendom. The Catholic General 
Tilly, who fought until mortally wounded in action at 
seventy-two, was a devout and greatly respected man ; 
an enemy once called him " The honourable old Tilly, 
whose acts were so heroic that after his death they were 
his everlasting monuments making his name eternal." 
Yet when someone complained of the crimes of his troops 
he answered only, " Do you think my men are nuns ? " 
Apparently he thought it was to be expected that soldiers 
should steal, rape,* and kill. In fact, it was the army 
under his command which at the taking of Magdeburg 
behaved more wickedly than any savage tribe, killing 
every man, woman and child they could find. They 
also worked hard at destroying the place except the 
cathedral, to which Tilly went in state for a solemn 
Te Deum ! He seems to have made no effort to check 
the slaughter. Perhaps forty thousand may have fallen. 



THE WARS OF RELIGION 97 

Although the forces of the other great imperialist com- 
mander, Wallenstein, never achieved any single mass 
production of atrocities to compare with Magdeburg, 
they were equally cruel. Once Wallenstein, summoning 
a town to surrender, announced that he would not leave 
alive so much as a child in its mother's womb if not 
admitted. Gustavus had some success in preventing his 
well-disciplined troops from killing non-combatants, but 
both sides made it a practice to massacre the garrison 
of a besieged place when taken by assault. Oddly 
enough to our thinking, many of the survivors of a beaten 
force, when they happened to be captured and not 
massacred, would enlist in the victorious army, like the 
survivors of the Sudanese who enlisted under their 
British conquerors. What the cosmopolitan mercenary 
of the religious wars really enjoyed, that is unless his 
ferocity was devout in motive, was loot and butchery 
in whatever cause. Scott's character of Dugald Dalgetty 
in the Legend of Montrose is a sympathetic portrait of 
the type. Since they were seldom regularly rationed 
and paid, they usually had to live off the country. 
Moreover, the armies were followed by great trains of 
camp-followers of both sexes ; it is said that one 
imperialist force of forty thousand had a hundred 
thousand of them, and these vast swarms helped to 
devour the country like locusts. 

The destruction caused by the thirty years of unlimited 
war exceed anything in European history ; three-quarters 
of the entire German population died. In one not 
especially exposed group of twenty villages the loss 
was eighty-five in the hundred. Careful German writers 
say that certain agricultural districts did not regain 
their former productivity for two centuries. Cannibalism 
was frequent ; the dead bodies of condemned criminals 
were eaten. Once, in Alsace, prisoners were actually 
killed for food. 



98 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Notwithstanding the frequent popular commotions 
which had accompanied the beginning of the Protestant 
movement, the religious wars bred no social revolts. 
On the contrary, governments continued to strengthen 
their hold on their peoples. For instance, Cromwell 
with his army at his back was absolute master of England 
as no king had ever been. With a large and strongly- 
commanded regular army at its orders, an executive is 
more secure against insurrection than under any other 
military system, because long-service professional soldiers 
form a sort of corporation or guild with a separate public 
opinion of their own. Again, unlimited war is the natural 
result of popular passions, so that the savagery of the 
religious wars merely reflected the intensity of feeling 
stirred up by the religious quarrel. After the horror 
had gone beyond a certain point society was numbed. 

Nevertheless, as the Thirty Years' War ended in 1648 
with no decision in favour of either of the two parties 
which had so long divided Europe, tired men might 
well have despaired as they despair to-day. As such 
men now see no end to the devouring curse of democratic 
war, so they might then have said : " Religious war must 
go on until Europe is destroyed. The question at stake 
is so important and the two sides so evenly balanced, 
especially now that Catholic France has inexplicably 
decided to side with the German Protestants, that no 
limitation of war is possible. There is no remedy, and 
our civilization must continue tearing itself in pieces/ 1 

Nothing of the sort happened. Our ancestors, 
seeing that they were approaching a precipice, sharply 
faced about. By an unspoken but real agreement they 
stopped fighting unlimited wars. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION 

SINCE the beginning of the romantic-naturalist move- 
ment which has given us modern democracy, red-hot 
nationalism, and communism, every scribbling mucker 
in Christendom has been pleased to spit on the eighteenth 
century, but at no time in history was war successfully 
limited against greater obstacles than in the era which 
began in 1648, sickened in 1775, and died in 1793. 

The chief obstacle with which Europe had to contend 
was the loss of religious unity ; the end of the Thirty 
Years' War had left the boundaries between the 
Protestant and Catholic cultures where they are to-day. 
The shining hope of a re-united Christendom had vanished 
in the long nightmare of the indecisive struggle, so that 
there remained no chance of recasting the medieval 
scheme. The second obstacle was nationalism ; local 
loyalties had naturally increased as international religious 
loyalty declined ; in France and England patriotism 
already had a tradition of over two centuries, Spain 
was not far behind, and there were nationalist indications 
in Central and Eastern Europe. Accordingly there could 
be no universal government like that of the Roman 
Empire. Henry IV of France had indeed proposed a 
European federation, but his scheme had been laughed 
down as a pro-French trick against the Austrian and 
Spanish Hapsburgs. 

However, although the medieval limitations of war 
had so fearfully broken down, that thirty years in the 
seventeenth century had produced a vaster nightmare 

99 



100 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

than the Hundred Years' War of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth, much of the medieval social order still 
remained. Government was still hereditary, indeed the 
divine right of kings was more vehemently preached as 
religious unity receded. Although the old " economic 
morality " restricting competition and thereby preventing 
the impoverishment of the small by the great was 
everywhere weakened, nevertheless enough of it was 
left to lessen economic oppression. Everyone still 
professed belief in a definite morality and a divine 
judgement after death. 

Making use of these considerable remnants, the 
unspoken agreement of all sane men had its way, and 
war was restricted after* a fashion recalling in part the 
Middle Ages, in part the ancient Empire. Moral bases 
for unity were found in the aristocracy and in the higher 
education. Everywhere the gentry, especially those of 
the Courts and of Diplomacy, were still of one kind. 
During the religious wars many of them had used the 
passionate loyalties of the people merely as pawns 
played in a game for personal advantage somewhat 
as cosmopolitan financiers indifferent to England pushed 
that country into the Boer War. In 1648, when the 
Thirty Years' War was over, all were sick of so nasty 
and ruinous a contest. The classical culture was shared 
not only by the gentry but also by the professional 
classes everywhere : the learned were international as 
the medieval clergy had been, a seventeenth-century 
Puritan like Milton found himself not entirely a stranger 
in the cultivated" Rome of the counter-reformation. 
Everywhere, fearing that all Europe, like the swine in 
the Gospel, might follow the Germanies over a precipice, 
learning allied itself with aristocracy to build on the 
ripe wisdom of antiquity a law of measure, decorum 
and moderation. 

A third element of moral unity was legalism : during 



THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION 101 

the Thirty Years' War the founder of international law, 
Grotius, wrote his book, On the Law of War and Peace. 
His thought centred in no world court and had no 
international army to enforce it, but although it lacked 
these sanctions it nevertheless created a certain law- 
abiding sentiment in favour of making war tolerable 
for neutrals and non-combatants. General opinion 
backed his insistence that all wanton killing and 
destruction not necessary for victory were both crimes 
and serious blunders. The moral anarchy of the 
religious wars had made even the cruel soldiers of the 
time feel the need of some recognized code of behaviour ; 
not a few of them wrote little manuals on the ethics 
of war, discussing such points as whether one should 
permit oneself to burn a building into which one's enemy 
had fled, whether one should poison wells, and so on. 

To-day international law rings hollow. If not only 
legalism but also good manners and humanist learning 
seem slight enough bases for moral unity, let us remember 
that in the seventeenth century the word gentleman 
had not yet been emptied of meaning. Nor had education 
been dulled into intellectual near-sightedness by physical 
science and specialized research ; unlike our pragmatists, 
behaviourists and relativists, the generation of Descartes 
could still reason broadly, clearly and forcibly. At all 
events, the fact remains that Europe changed direction. 
Fearing, as many fear to-day, that another smash would 
come soon and would destroy civilization, men fought 
no more great religious wars the English and Irish 
civil strife centring about James II included only a 
single real battle, the Boyne, and that not very bloody. 
Instead we find kings pitting their navies and little 
professional armies against the similar forces of their 
neighbours much in the spirit of a cock-fight, almost in 
that of an adventurous and dangerous sport. 

Politically these wars were fought for limited 



102 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

objectives. That is, as we saw in the second chapter, 
governments made war not to conquer their enemies 
altogether, but merely to exercise pressure for the sake 
of colonial advantages or of conquests along the frontiers. 
Consequently, defeated states seldom had to fear disaster ; 
at most they might expect a supportable diminution 
of wealth and power. 

Technically the era of Louis XIV and the eighteenth 
century continued the professional armies, but saw tp it 
that they should harm society but little. Although 
numbers were increased as compared with the religious 
wars, still they remained small in proportion to 
population, usually far below one per cent. A few 
examples will suffice. In 1700 France with about nineteen 
million souls was the first military power in Europe. 
Now a fully conscript country can mobilize about a 
tenth of its total numbers. Therefore, had France then 
suffered from or enjoyed a universal service army on 
the democratic plan, a general mobilization would have 
given her nearly two million trained or partly-trained 
men. By the greatest efforts she raised three hundred 
thousand, roughly one and a half per cent. In 1738, 
with about twenty-two million souls, a full conscript 
mobilization would have furnished over two million. 
She actually had a hundred and eighty thousand on a 
peace footing, of whom sixty thousand were militia, 
and the English Government estimated that for war 
these numbers could not be more than doubled. The 
contemporary English army was small, even when 
compared with the other armies of the time ; in 1776, 
at the height of the effort to reconquer the Thirteen 
Colonies, intensive recruiting among the nine million 
inhabitants of the British Isles furnished only thirty- 
three thousand regulars available for American service. 
It is true that eighteenth-century strengths are usually 
given in terms of " rank and file," omitting commissioned 



THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION 103 

officers, sergeants and company musicians; none the 
less, the foregoing figures tell their own story. 

The little eighteenth-century armies were handled 
and fought after a fashion that minimized injury and 
inconvenience to civilians. Although their rank and 
file ware still recruited from the dregs of the population, 
every effort was made to keep them under control. 
Since unpaid or ill-fed troops are tempted to pillage 
ancj thus get out of hand, every effort was made to pay 
them regularly and to feed them from magazines even 
when in campaign. Since conquered territory was 
valuable only when populous and prosperous, these 
methods also served the interest of the conqueror by 
sparing the inhabitants and their wealth. Accordingly, 
foraging and living off the country were discouraged, 
and the troops were held in the closest formation, not 
only in battle but also in camp and on the march. In 
1709, when an allied army under Marlborough, having 
taken the town of Tournai in northern France, was 
besieging its citadel, an understanding was reached 
between besieger and besieged that there should be no 
gun-fire by either party on the side of the citadel which 
faced the town. The active operations all took place 
on the side which faced the open country. In the same 
way plundering was severely put down ; General Gage, 
commanding for George III in Boston in 1775, promptly 
hung some of his own soldiers merely for breaking and 
entering a colonist's shop. 

On the other hand, the most brutal punishment did 
not cow the tough customers of the eighteenth-century 
rank and file ; their discipline, their spirit of sacrifice, 
and the perfection of their highly-specialized tactics were 
remarkable. At Bunker Hill about half, certainly over 
two-fifths, and perhaps more than half of the assaulting 
troops were killed and wounded. After such butchery 
they returned to the charge and carried the position. 



104 CAN WE LIMIT WAR ? 

And yet Burgoyne, an experienced soldier who saw the 
operation, spoke of them as " . . . ill-grounded in 
the great points of discipline," and went on : " ... it 
will require some training under such Generals as Howe 
and Clinton before they can be prudently intrusted in 
many exploits ! " So high was the standard of quality 
demanded of the eighteenth-century regular, and such 
was his just pride, that in the same letter Burgoyne 
could write : " . . . in most states of the world^ as 
Well as our own, the respect and control and sub- 
ordination of government at this day in great measure 
depends upon the idea that trained troops are invincible 
against any number or any position of undisciplined 
rabble." Events were to prove the colonists not 
altogether a rabble. 

Nor were the eighteenth-century limited wars as 
artificial as sometimes has been made out. For instance, 
the British officer who at Fontenoy bowed ceremoniously 
to the French troops and invited them to fire first was 
by no means playing the fool. Behind his bravado was 
the soundest of tactical principles, because with the 
muzzle-loading smooth-bore musket the essence of the 
art was to receive, not to give, the first volley. Then 
you closed with your enemy while he was reloading 
and delivered your own volley at murderously close 
range. 

For that matter we saw in the second chapter that 
all wars are to some extent artificial in that they are 
limited by certain moral restraints. 

The high military quality which compensated for the 
small numbers of the little eighteenth-century armies 
was achieved only by years of training. The length of 
time required for this training, together with the moral 
atmosphere which with the small scale finance of the 
age made recruitment scanty, compelled eighteenth- 
century commanders to be economical of blood ; they 



THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION 105 

could not escape from the universal rule that a valuable 
instrument difficult to replace must be used with caution, 
like that of Jellicoe at Jutland. Accordingly they preferred 
to manoeuvre, and since the prohibition of plundering 
and foraging necessitated large depots or magazines of 
supplies, they usually manoeuvred against the enemy's 
communications with his depots. A skilful general 
would avoid battle until he had put the chances well 
on Jiis side, and a masterpiece of troop leading was to 
out-manoeuvre the enemy so completely that you won 
without any heavy fighting. The all-important magazines 
were protected, and at the same time the dangers, 
hardships, and fatigue of the soldiers were lessened by 
a liberal use of fortification, both in the shape of 
permanent works and of temporary trenches. In his 
manual of siege warfare, or as we should say to-day 
"trench warfare," the great Vauban a hard-headed, 
practical soldier if there ever was one is continually 
advising against haste and heavy risks. Make your 
approaches, he says, in such fashion that your men are 
covered whereas the enemy must expose himself in 
order to resist you ; should he sally out, seize part of 
your front line, and begin destroying the works there 
by no means hasten to put him out, but let your fire 
play upon the good target he presents as long as he is 
foolish enough to remain exposed. 

Finally, various limitations of eighteenth-century 
war converged upon the rational end of obtaining peace. 
All wars are fought to compel an opposing group to do 
as it would not have done without being defeated ; on 
the other hand, all wars must end in peace, and all except 
those of extermination in peace by agreement. But all 
ethical systems agree that agreements made under 
compulsion do not bind the conscience of the signer. 
How then can a treaty become morally binding upon 
a conquered people ? Politically limited war, since it 



106 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

does not aim at the total overthrow of the entire hostile 
group, allows a certain liberty to the conquered. The 
defeated government, beaten but by no means com- 
pletely crushed, still enjoys a certain freedom of 
negotiation, and that liberty gives the treaty its moral 
force. The defeated side can resign themselves to 
moderate concessions in order to avoid the greater evils 
almost certain to follow prolonged resistance. The 
eighteenth-century diplomat Vattel formulated the i<Jeal 
of his time when he recommended moderation even in 
the moral claims made by a fighting government. A 
sovereign, he says, should never make war without fully 
satisfying his conscience as to the justice of his cause ; 
not to do so is to commit brigandage. On the other 
hand, every sovereign is, under God, the keeper of his 
own conscience ; for others to take it upon themselves 
to judge him will merely embitter the quarrel and postpone 
peace. So that quarrels inevitable among independent 
states may end quickly for the general good each 
sovereign must assume that his enemy is acting in 
accordance with that enemy's conscience, must refrain 
from all unnecessarily cruel acts, and must not be too 
quick to complain of the conduct of his opponent. He 
must be moderate even in his assertion of his own 
righteousness and treaties must never morally condemn 
the defeated foe. What we call " propaganda " was 
happily unnecessary; you did not have to persuade 
the grenadiers of Frederick to fight by telling them 
that the Empress "Maria Theresa was a cannibal or the 
Austrian guards that Frederick was a pervert. 



Although the imperial Roman limitation of war 
lasted eight centuries and the medieval limitation six, 
that of the eighteenth century remained only from 
1648 to 1793. To-day the weaknesses of the scheme 



THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION 107 

are obvious : its aristocratic and learned moral unity 
offered little to the imagination and could inspire no 
strong loyalty, Especially the po'pulace were unaffected. 
To control them their masters made use of traditions 
in which those masters themselves no longer believed 
religion and the divine right of kings. To adapt a great 
phrase of Belloc which recalls the ancient tombstones 
fitted hastily into so many city walls of the Dark Ages, 
the i cynics built themselves ramparts of sacred tombs 
and sheltered themselves behind the people's memories. 
Man being man, it was not to be expected that the 
humanist cult of moderation could perfect even the 
upper classes directly affected by it. Indeed, it was 
the fashion of the time, with its distaste and contempt 
for " enthusiasm/' to make itself out worse than it was. 
When an eighteenth-century writer like Fielding in 
Tom Jones makes his political lady from London say 
of her country brother, Squire Western : " Brother 
. . . as you are so excellent a politician I may expect 
you will keep your leagues, like the French, till your 
interest calls upon you to break them," he is abusing 
a diplomacy which under Louis XIV and XV was more 
scrupulous and far less rapacious than that of our own 
time. It is true that throughout the period economic 
competition was sharpening both between individuals 
and between nations ; eighteenth - century states 
frequently fought to advance their commercial interests, 
chiefly at sea and in distant colonies. In 1740, when 
Frederick of Prussia grabbed Silesia, he was making 
European territory the object of mere naked conquest 
for the first time in centuries. Still worse was the 
partition of Poland which he began in 1772. He even 
persuaded the devout Empress Maria Theresa to share 
his loot. In his blasphemous phrase, " I invited her to 
partake with me of the eucharistic body of Poland. 
She wept, but she took." The moral unity of the time 



108 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

was weakening. Nevertheless, we must not refuse the 
eighteenth century its due honour. So effective was 
its limitation of war that it could fight long wars without 
straining the social order. From 1739 to 1748 first 
England and then England and Austria fought against 
Spain, who was later joined by France and Pitissia 
and all without appalling distress anywhere. The same 
thing was true when England and Prussia opposed a 
continental coalition for seven years from 1756 to 1763. 
The men who lived between the religious and the 
democratic butcheries have at least the melancholy 
distinction of being the last on the planet successfully 

to limit war. 

***** 

All moral changes are gradual. Between 1775 and 
1781 Christendom had a foretaste of what was to follow. 
The American revolutionary movement including as it 
did both Washington and Hamilton was by no means 
purely democratic ; nor did the war which it fought 
reach the perfect type of democratic warfare. At the 
same time that war did greatly differ from the limited 
hostilities to which pre-democratic Europe had become 
accustomed. 

First, as to the point of numbers : the colonists had 
a military tradition of service in the militia, into which, 
in theory, every man was liable to be drafted. There 
was neither political authority nor financial strength 
sufficient to keep large numbers long with the colours, 
so that most of "the real work had to be done by a 
permanent force, the continentals, of whom the rebel 
leaders tried to make regulars on the European model. 
But for short periods militia did appear in such numbers 
that the final result owed much to them. Thus in March, 
1776, militia played an essential part in the skilful 
operation by which Washington* hastened the British 
evacuation of Boston. Late in February he applied 



THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LIMITATION IOQ 

to have all the nearby militia sent to his camp for three 
days' service. While his continentals hastily entrenched 
Dorchester Heights, from which the main ship channel 
into Boston could be taken under long-range artillery 
fire, these militia-men were held on the Cambridge side 
of the .shallow Charles River, ready to embark in boats 
to attack the north end of Boston should the British 
send most of their available troops against Dorchester. 
Unable to face both fronts at the same time in sufficient 
strength, the British commander, Howe, wisely gave up 
the game and evacuated. So it was with the surrender 
of Burgoyne, the turning-point of the entire struggle, 
since it encouraged the French to come in. Just at 
the end of Burgoyne 's campaign New England and 
New York militia-men came swarming out against him. 
His little army, reduced below five thousand effectives, 
surrendered to some five thousand continentals supported 
by. over twelve thousand militia. In other words, 
Burgoyne's isolated and ill-provisioned men were mobbed. 
We need not here discuss how far the vastness and bad 
roads of the remote and empty continent made the 
problem of transport and supply insoluble to the British 
generals. Nor need we consider how unsuited to woods 
fighting were the rigid shoulder to shoulder tactics 
developed on the unfenced, open fields of continental 
Europe. Without these handicaps and under better 
leaders the British regulars would doubtless have won. 
In the event they nearly won, and lost only thanks to 
French aid. Nevertheless, certain phases of the struggle 
were decided by victories of quantity over quality of 
troops. 

Nor was the American Revolution fought within the 
conventions characteristic of eighteenth-century limited 
warfare. The same popular passions which produced 
the temporary mustering of what were in the circum- 
stances large numbers produced also a corresponding 



110 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

intensity, not to say savagery, in the fighting. At the 
first American volley of the war, fired near Concord 
Bridge in April '75, two red-coats fell, one dead, the other 
badly wounded. The troops of both sides having moved 
off, the wounded man started to crawl away. Whereat 
a young American who had been working on a .nearby 
woodpile came and brained the helpless hireling of tyranny 
with his axe. The practice of sniping, long thought 
unsportsmanlike, gained ground. Toward the enfl of 
the contest the southern campaigns were marked on 
both sides by prisoner killings such as Europe had not 
seen since the wars of religion. At the surrender of 
Yorktown, Cornwallis's chief of cavalry, Tarleton, had 
such reason to fear that he might be lynched in revenge 
for his barbarities that he asked Washington for a special 
guard to protect him. 

Within ten years of the treaty establishing the 
independence of the United States popular passion had 
returned to Europe, bringing with it the old curse of 
slaughter. 



CHAPTER VII 

DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 

WE now approach the disastrous cycle of democratic 
wars upon which the world appears to be still 
engaged. 

Among the impudent claims made for democracy 
perhaps the most impudent is that it is a peaceful form 
of government. In the matter of civil strife educated 
democrats will usually admit that the record is not 
conspicuously in their favour, that popular revolutions 
have seldom been bloodless. But they cling to the idea 
that democracies are less likely than monarchies or 
aristocracies to get their citizens and other people killed 
off in foreign wars. This idea I propose to examine. 



The ancient and medieval periods may be briefly 
passed over. Like most of our political terms and ideas, 
that of democracy comes to us from ancient Greece. 
Since the Roman Republic was never of pure democratic 
type because of its aristocratic senate, the most notable 
of ancient democracies was Athens. In the third 
chapter we saw that, having been elected by the ^Egean 
Islands as commander-in-chief for the naval war against 
Persia, the Athenian democracy promptly transformed 
the confederacy into an empire and their allies into 
subjects. They then began bullying their smaller 
neighbours so aggressively that a second confederacy 

in 



112 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

came together to resist them under the leadership of 
Sparta. 

The war which followed lasted twenty-seven years, 
and was destructive beyond any civil or foreign war 
previously fought in Greece. The Athenian democrats 
led in atrocities throughout. The high point of. these 
was their invasion of Melos. Without a shadow of 
provocation they attacked this little neutral island, 
killed all the men of military age and enslaved the other 
inhabitants. Professor J. B. Bury says in his history 
of Greece : " The conquest of Melos is remarkable, not 
for the rigorous treatment of the Melians, which is 
merely another example of the inhumanity which we 
have already met in the cases of ... Mytilene and 
Scione, but for the unprovoked aggression of Athens 
without any tolerable pretext." The Athenians merely 
said that it was a law of, nature that the strong should 
rule the weak. 

Meanwhile, the peace party in Athens was composed 
of precisely those who had their doubts of the 
wisdom and virtue of the mob. To this party 
belonged Aristophanes, the writer of comedies, whose 
peace propaganda play Lysistrata was recently 
seen on the American stage. He and his friends 
clung to the regrettable and reactionary notion that 
to have been well educated and well born, that 
is to descend from people of proved ability beyond 
the average, had something to do with fitness for 
government. 

But it may be said that the ancient democracies 
are not typical because all ancient pagan societies were 
based upon slavery. Let us therefore glance at 
Switzerland, the one medieval stronghold of political 
democracy. Does history show the medieval Swiss to 
have been peaceful ? We find their country not only 
warlike on its own account, but actually the chief 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 113 

European reservoir and source of mercenaries ready to 
fight for anyone who would pay them. The late medieval 
and sixteenth-century wars were rather unusually savage. 
Do we find the Swiss democrats more chivalrous or 
more merciful than other soldiers of the time ? The 
standard book on the subject, Sir Charles Oman's Art 
of War in the Middle Ages, says : " In the Swiss . . . 
we find ... an appalling ferocity, and a cynical 
disregard for the rights of all neighbours. ... As 
enemies . . . ' they ' . . . were distinguished for 
their deliberate and cold-blooded cruelty. The resolution 
to give no quarter, which appears almost pardonable 
in patriots defending their own native soil, becomes 
brutal when retained in wars of aggression, but reaches 
a climax of disgusting inhumanity when the slayer is 
a mere mercenary, fighting for a cause in which he 
has no national interest. Repulsive as was the callous 
bloodthirstiness of the soldiers of Sulla or Caesar, it 
was less in moral guilt than the needless ferocity 
displayed by the hired Swiss soldiery on many a 
battle-field of the sixteenth century. After Novara, 
for example, they put to death several hundred 
German prisoners both slayers and slain being mere 
hired mercenaries." 

And this is the nation of which that ardent democrat 
Francis Hackett in his Henry VIII recently wrote : 
" Save for Switzerland (sixteenth-century) Europe . . . 
was politically imbecile," imbecile to his mind because 
of its consent to be governed by hereditary monarchs 
or more rarely by aristocracies. 



Turning now to the modern democratic era of the 
last century and a half, we find a steady increase in 
the scale and destructiveness of war ; due first to 
that typically democratic instrument the universal- 



114 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

service conscript army, and secondly to the chief 
by-product of democracy, the fanaticizing of national 
patriotism. 

At this point, so that the reader may feel the full 
force of the indictment, it will be well to repeat certain 
truths set forth in previous chapters. The w^ar .and 
tear of war upon society has nothing to do with the 
destructiveness of weapons ; the limited wars of the 
Roman Empire were fought with the same swords and 
javelins as the unlimited wars of the later Roman 
Republic, the eighteenth-century limited wars with the 
same cannon and muskets as the great struggles of 
the French Revolution and Napoleon. No civilization 
in history has ever abolished war, and presumably none 
ever will, but all stable civilizations have strictly limited 
it. The job has been successfully done by precisely 
those times at which democrats are accustomed to 
sneer, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, and the 
eighteenth century. The early Roman Empire so hated 
by a man like H. G. Wells policed the entire 
Mediterranean world with an army of about three 
hundred thousand ; in 1914 a single poor province, 
Serbia, put in the field over twice as many. The 
" benighted " and " superstitious " Middle Ages restricted 
armed feudal service outside of one's immediate locality 
to forty days ; from 1914 to 1918 millions of men, the 
survivors of those originally mobilized, were held with 
the colours for over four years. 



The independence of the United States was 
recognized in 1783, and by 1793, after their American 
adolescence, the democratic movement and the mass 
massacres of democratic war appeared full grown in 
the French Revolution. As we saw in Chapter VI, the 
eighteenth-century armies were so small that they were 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 115 

hardly more than constabularies. Under Louis XVI, 
although the population of France had increased to 
twenty-six million, the peace footing of the army was 
about a hundred and seventy thousand regulars and 
sixty thousand militia. When one of the first effects 
of democracy was the disintegration of the old army, 
revolutionary France first tried to achieve numbers by 
volunteering ; through the chaos of the administrative 
paper-work it appears that eight hundred thousand 
should have been with the colours late in 1792, 
and about half that number actually were so. Before 
the Republic was six months old conscription and a 
levy en masse were voted. One remembers with a 
melancholy amusement the lyrical enthusiasm of certain 
nineteenth-century poets, for instance Walt Whitman's 
line : 

" I utter the word democratic, I utter the word en masse" 

The sentiment certainly fits the case ; for twenty- 
two years the French marched in mass to the slaughter- 
house, first under the Republic and then under Napoleon, 
the " Soldier of the Revolution," who continued its 
work, altering that work only to stabilize it. Of 
course, this was done from the loftiest motives ; the 
French war songs from the republican Chant du Depart 
to Veillons Au Salut De L'Empire agreed perfectly in 
telling the world that the French made war only against 
kings, loved all other peoples, and sought only to bestow 
on them liberty and peace. 

This they proposed to do by waging war on a scale 
which the world had never known and with a fury which 
Europe had long been happy to forget. 

Let us look at a few of the figures. For the campaign 
of 1793 the conscription increased French armed forces 
by nearly half a million men. Notwithstanding casualties, 
the following January saw more than three-quarters of 



Il6 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

a million under arms. Losses were in proportion. In 
the days of the old " tyrant kings " England had 
withdrawn from the war against Louis XIV in horror 
at the butchery of Malplaquet, which hard-fought battle 
cost the British contingent about six hundred men 
killed. The wounded were, of course, in proportion. 
In the eight years from 1793 to the victory of Marengo 
in 1800 the French Republic lost more than seven 
hundred thousand men, killed or wounded about 
ninety thousand a year. In 1805 Napoleon boasted to 
Metternich : " I can afford to expend thirty thousand 
men per month." In 1812 he took an army of four 
hundred and sixty thousand men, of whom less than 
half were French, into Russia and brought back less 
than thirty thousand. 

It needs no argument to show that such doings 
transformed war as a social phenomenon. Whereas the 
little armies of the old kings had acted as sponges to 
soak up undesirable elements among the dregs of society, 
or as filters preventing these undesirables from doing 
harm, the new hordes were a different matter. The 
harm they did was increased by the new intensity with 
which they were used, which intensity has been the 
commonplace of military writers from Clausewitz and 
Jomini to Foch. They were encouraged to live off the 
country. " Don't talk to me of supplies," said Napoleon ; 
" a hundred thousand men can live in a desert." To which 
it might be observed that the districts through which 
they passed were far more like deserts afterward than 
before. 

As early as 1794 the democratic politicians of the 
French Directory ordered their cruiser captains to take 
no prisoners, directed the order to be posted so that the 
crews might know it, and made disobedience punishable 
by death. Fortunately for the honour of France, most 
of her sea-officers and sailors refused to imitate the 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 117 

calculated ferocity of the recent German submarine 
campaign. 



Between 1793 and 1815 the opposition between 
democracy and the older loyalties was only secondarily 
the moral force which sustained alike the opposition 
between the French crusade and the increasing resistance 
to it. The primary force was nationalism. The 
democratic movement did not invent the idea ; in France 
and England national feeling had already existed for 
over three centuries, and traces of it had appeared even 
earlier. But whereas the pre-democratic conception 
had been that of a king ruling his various peoples, 
republicanism demanded a human group strongly 
conscious of unity. Thus, notwithstanding their facade 
of internationalism, the French democrats were vehement 
nationalists, and as time went on their nationalism 
was increasingly reflected among the other peoples of 
Europe. Indeed, nationalism became the chief political 
by-product of the democratic era, and soon com- 
manded a wider allegiance than the democratic theory 
itself. 

This explains how after the fall of Napoleon the 
universal-service conscript army, the typical military 
product and instrument of democracy, was preserved 
by the country which was to become the chief opponent 
of political democracy in Europe, namely Prussia. 
After overthrowing the old Prussian professional army 
at Jena in 1806, Napoleon imposed upon Prussia a treaty 
which, among other humiliations, limited her army to 
forty-three thousand men. The treaty, however, was 
so bitterly resented by the average Prussian that it 
proved possible to use the officers and non-coms of this 
little force as instructors for successive batches of 
privates. These last were called up under a universal- 



Il8 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

service law. They enthusiastically turned out for a 
short period of intensive training, and then went back 
to civil life as trained reserves, giving place to a fresh 
lot which was intensively trained in its turn. All were 
available for call in war. In 1815 the restored French 
Bourbons abolished both conscription and the -heavy 
taxes needed to support the conscript masses; indeed, 
their promise to do so was the most popular plank in 
the platform on which they returned to power. But 
for over a century after Waterloo the military history 
of the world was determined by Prussia's retention of 
the system. 

Alone among the soldiers of post-Napoleonic Europe 
the Prussians carried on the democratic preference for 
quantity over quality. Their army also served as a 
vehicle for another typically democratic idea, that of 
universal education ; for decades it was their boast 
that its educational value far outweighed its cost. 
Finally, since their short-service conscripts had to be 
fanaticized in order to make them fight, the Prussian 
State deliberately intoxicated them with national 
patriotism as vehement as that of the revolutionary 
French. 

For the moment the Prussian copying of these 
democratic derivatives did no great harm ; for fifty 
years no wars on the Revolutionary-Napoleonic scale 
were fought in Europe precisely because this precious 
interval of comparative peace marked an ebb of 
democratic dogma. Whereas all the smashing victories 
of the Republic and of Bonaparte could not bring peace 
because the sweeping French annexations so alarmed 
the other powers that their signatures were worthless 
and at the first opportunity they combined to pull 
Napoleon down, after Waterloo the " reactionaries " 
of 1815 were wise enough to reject the Prussian 
proposals for partitioning conquered France. Putting 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE Iig 

aside the romantic-naturalist crusading temper, the 
restored sovereigns preferred the less exciting but 
more real charms of precedent and prescriptive right. 
The ghost of the eighteenth century rose for a moment 
from its grave and after twenty years of bloody 
convulsions moderation restored tranquillity. It 
is true that the time asked nothing better than 
peace. Byron's Devil's Drive reflected the prevailing 
mood : 

" ' And what shall I ride in ? ' quoth Lucifer then 

' If I follow'd my taste, indeed, 
I should mount in a waggon of wounded men, 

And smile to see them bleed. 
But these will be furnish 'd again and again, 

And at present my purpose is speed/ " 



" But first as he flew, I forgot to say, 
That he hover'd a moment upon his way 

To look upon Leipsic plain ; 
And so sweet to his eye was its sulphury glare, 
And so soft to his ear was the cry of despair, 

That he perch'd on a mountain of slain ; 
And he gazed with delight from its growing height, 
Nor often on earth had he seen such a sight, 

Nor his work done half as well : 
For the field ran so red with the blood of the dead, 

That it blush'd like the waves of hell ! 
Then loudly, and wildly, and long laugh 'd he : 
' Methinks they have here little need of me ! ' " 

On the other hand, peaceful sentiments alone 
would not have been enough to establish a true 
peace, as we have learned to our cost since 1918. To 
get rid of the tides means abolishing the moon ; 
to diminish strife means diminishing the causes which 
provoke it as surely as the moon makes the seas ebb 
and flow. It was because the kings and aristocrats 
of 1815, with all their imperfections, worked 



120 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

intelligently for reconciliation that their treaty was 
fruitful. 

It is also true that the Napoleonic Empire, had it 
maintained its overwhelming power, might have pacified 
Europe in a new empire like that of old Rome. Had 
Napoleon not been beaten in Russia Europe -might 
to-day be enjoying both unity and happiness. The 
fact remains that Roman results are achieved only by 
Roman successes. 

Let us note in passsing that after Napoleon's fall 
there was established a " Holy Alliance," a short-lived 
international federation not unlike the present League 
of Nations. The sovereigns might have done better to 
avoid such rigidity and stick to eighteenth-century 
moderation between independent states. When in 1830 
a French army was besieging a Dutch garrison in the 
citadel of Antwerp a convention of the eighteenth- 
century type spared the town and confined the cannon 
fire of both sides to that side of the citadel which faced 
the open country. Even as late as 1859, when Francis 
Joseph of Austria, his armies beaten at Solferino, was 
able to resign himself to the result, saying calmly in 
the eighteenth-century manner, " I have lost a battle, 
I pay with a province," his moderation saved Europe 
from a general war. 

Already, however, a new flood-tide of democracy 
had begun to flow ; the European insurrections of 1848 
showed the demon of democratic war to be not dead 
but sleeping, and in 1861 it woke with a vengeance in 
the United States.^ 

In the American Civil War first the South and then 
the North went to the draft ; taken together the armies 
of the two sides, drawn from a population of only thirty- 
two millions, reached the astonishing figure of nearly 
four million. Including men dead from wounds and 
disease, the loss in the four years' fighting has been 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 121 

estimated at a million. In the Union forces alone 
359,528 were killed in action. 

In 1866 the Prussians overthrew the Austrians in 
seven weeks, in 1870 they defeated the French regular 
army in five weeks ; they were wise enough to annex 
no Austrian territory, but foolish in taking from France 
not only Alsace but also Lorraine, including Metz 
an error destined to cost both Prussia and the world 
very dear. Meanwhile, seeing these rapid and sweeping 
successes, first the other nations of continental Europe 
and then Japan took up universal service. The French 
Republic was particularly rigid in refusing exemptions ; 
far more so than Prussia had ever been. When the 
autocracies of Russia and Japan, both possessing universal- 
service laws, tried to use against each other the ponderous 
weapon forged by the French Revolution, neither could 
bring its full weight to bear. Japan had trained only a 
small fraction, about a fifth, of her annual conscript 
classes, while Russia was handicapped throughout by 
bad communications and later by internal strife. Thus 
in 1914, after a century of unparalleled material develop- 
ment during which democratic ideas had steadily gained 
ground, few in Europe imagined what a general and 
prolonged universal-service war would be like. By the 
end of 1918 all were wiser, and only fear of the common- 
place restrains my pen from remarking that they were 
also sadder. 

Obviously the advance of democracy had not been 
as regular nor its success as complete as that of its 
children conscription and vehement nationalism. 
Although all the original protagonists except England 
entered the war fully conscript, yet in Russia, Austria, 
and Germany government was still largely hereditary. 
Nor is this the place to discuss how far, if at all, 
parliamentarism and democracy are the same. Suffice 
it that the popular mind identified the two ; that 



122 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

even in the autocratic countries democratic ideas were 
rife and were haloed as " progressive," and that 
every country, even Russia, had an elected parliament. 
Enormous majorities in each elected parliament were 
vehement for their own side in the war. The Russian 
parliamentarians' chief complaint was that the Czar's 
advisers were insufficiently warlike. The German 
Liebknecht seems to have been the one elected 
legislator in Europe to speak publicly for peace. The 
unanimous enthusiasm not to say ferocity with 
which the United States at last came in is also to be 
remembered. 

With the chances which combined with the technical 
predominance of the defensive over the offensive to 
prolong the war we shall deal in later chapters. For 
the moment it will be enough to glance at the way in 
which the struggle was conducted. Everyone knows 
that nationalist hatred and organized, patriotic lying 
had never before reached such a point. The Germans 
opened the ball by violating the neutrality of Belgium 
which their Government had sworn to protect, began 
the use of poison in the form of gas, and sent out 
submarines to sink merchantmen on sight. The Allies 
enforced with unprecedented rigour a naval blockade 
intended to starve the entire German people, tearing up 
their own treaty obligations (undertaken by the Declara- 
tion of Paris in 1856, and by that of London in 1909) in 
order to do so. From the air both sides dropped bombs 
freely on civilian objectives ; indeed, the whole distinction 
between soldier and civilian became blurred. While 
serving in France the writer was told by an American 
staff colonel that certain Allied aviators, passing over 
a Rhineland city, saw an open-air circus to which the 
children of the place had crowded ; flying low, they 
bombed and machine-gunned the innocents with great 
effect. 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 123 

The butcher's bill is itemized in the following tables : 

TABLE I. 
(From Almanacs and The Encyclopedia Britannica.) 









Soldiers 






Total 


Killed and 




Population. 


Mobilized.* 


Died of Wounds, 


Russia, 


150,000,000 


12,000,000 


1,700,000 


France 


39,000,000 


8,410,000 


1,363,000 


Great Britain 


41,000,000 


8,904,000 


908,000 


Serbia 


3,000,000 


707,000 


45.000 


Belgium 


7,000,000 


267,000 


14,000 


Germany 


63,000,000 


11,000,000 


1,774,000 


Austria-Hungary 


47,000,000 


7,800,000 


1,200,000 


Total original belligerents 


350,000,000 


49,088,000 


7,004,000 


Turkey (Nov., 1914) 


26,000,000 


2,850,000 


325,000 


Italy (May, 1915) 


33,000,000 


5,615,000 


650,000 


Bulgaria (October, 1915).. 


4,000,000 


560,000 


87,000 


Rumania (August, 1916).. 


7,000,000 


750,000 


336,000 


United States (April, 1917) 


92,000,000 


4,355.000 


126,000 



Total of later belligerents 162,000,000 14,130,000 1,524,000 



Grand Totals 



512,000,000 63,218,000 8,528,000 



TABLE II. 

Losses in soldiers alone from Ploetz's Manual of Universal History. 
(Edited by Dr. Harry Elmer Barnes ; Pub. Houghton Mifflin, 1925.) 

Great United 

Britain. France. States. 
Known 

dead . 
Seriously 
wounded 617,740 700,000 43,000 500,000 1,000,000 2,860,740 

Otherwise 

wounded 1,441,394 2,344,000 148,000 462,196 3,950,000 8,345,59C 
64,907 453>5o 4.912 1,359,000 2,500,000 4,382,315 



Italy. Russia. Totals, 
807,451 1,427,800 107,284 507,160 2,762,064 5,611,755 



2,931,492 4,925,300 303,196 2,828,356 10,212,064 21,200,408 

* These figures represent those mobilized from beginning to end of the 
war ; those under arms at any one time were of course far fewer. 



124 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Allied known and presumed soldier dead. 

Great Britain 938,904 

France 1,654,550 

United States 109,740 

Italy 1,180,660 

Russia 4,012,064. 

Belgium 272,000 

Serbia 757,343 

Rumania .. .. .. .. .. 391,117 

Greece . . . . . . . . . . 37'5 

Portugal 4,100 

Japan 3i 



Total 



- 9,358,279 



TABLE III. 

Losses in soldiers alone, from National Defense, by Kirby Page. 
(Pub. Farrar and Rinehart, New York, 1930.) 





Known 
Dead. 


Seriously 
Wounded, 


Otherwise 
Wounded. 


Prisoners 
or Missing. 


Totals. 


Russia 


2,762,064 


1,000,000 


3,950,000 


2,500,000 


10,212,064 


Germany. . 


1,611,104 


1,600,000 


2,183,143 


772,522 


6,166,769 


France . . 


1,427,800 


700,000 


2,344,000 


453,500 


4,925,300 


Austria- 












Hungary 


911,000 


850,000 


2,150,000 


443,000 


4,365,000 


Great 












Britain 


807,451 


617,740 


i.44 I i394 


64,907 


2,931,492 


Serbia 


77.343 


322,000 


28,000 


100,000 


1,157.343 


Italy 


507,160 


500,000 


462,196 


1,359.000 


2,828,356 


Turkey . . 


436,924 


107,772 


300,000 


103,731 


948,427 


Rumania. . 


339,117 


200,000 


__ 


116,000 


655,ii7 


Belgium . . 


267,000 


40,000 


100,000 


10,000 


417,000 


United 












States .. 


107,284^ 


43,000 


148,000 


4,912 


303,196 


Bulgaria . . 


101,224 


300,000 


852,399 


10,825 


1,264,448 


Greece 


15,000 


10,000 


30,000 


45,ooo 


100,000 


Portugal . . 


4,000 


5,000 


12,000 


200 


21,200 


Japan 


300 





907 


3 


1,210 



9,998,771 6,295,512 14,002,039 5,983,600 36,285,922 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 125 

^Mobilized. \Pcv cent. 

Russia . . . . 15,070,000 



Germany .. 
Austria-Hungary 
France .. 
United Kingdom 
Italy .. 

United States 



13,250,000 66, 1 

9,000,000 54-4 

7,935> 000 59-4 

5,704,000 39.2 

'5,615,000 4^.3 

4,272,000 13.2 



The above lists are not perfect. Table I gives only 
the populations of European France and of England 
plus Scotland, whereas the mobilized and dead are from 
the entire French and British Empire. It gives no 
figures for Portugal, Montenegro, Greece or Japan. Nor 
do the permanently^ disabled appear. Table II gives 
no details for the Central Powers, although Ploetz does 
give the totals which reappear in the last line of Table III. 
It is noteworthy that the known and presumed dead 
of the Allies alone 9,358,279 are within 640,000 of 
the known dead 9,998,771 of both sides together. 
Nor will the discrepancy between the given lists surprise 
anyone who has tried to handle statistics. For our 
purposes only the general effect matters. 

So far we have been dealing only with the soldiers 
who fell in action or died from wounds or illness, excluding 
civilians killed, starved, or dead of disease. Kirby Page 
quotes an estimate by Professor Bogart : " . . . the 
loss of civilian life due directly to war equals, if indeed 
it does not exceed, that suffered by the armies in the 
field." On this basis the human cost of 1914-18 is as 
follows : 

10,000,000 known dead soldiers. 3,000,000 prisoners. 
3,000,000 presumed dead 9,000,000 war orphans. 

soldiers. 5,000,000 war widows. 

20,000,000 wounded. 10,000,000 refugees. 

13,000,000 dead civilians. 

* Figures from the Internationa] Labour Office. The grand 
total mobilized was 66,103,164 ; about 15,000,000 were at the front. 
f Percentage of active male population mobilized. 



126 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Let us contrast our contemporary slaughter with 
the eighteenth century. The latest English historian of 
Queen Anne's Wars, G. M. Trevelyan, estimates that in 
the critical year of 1704, the year of Blenheim, the 
British Army and Navy decided the fate of Europe at 
a cost of less than five thousand dead, of whom about 
two thousand fell in the four major actions of that year. 
He goes on to say : " Between 1914 and 1918 the average 
loss of life in war to Great Britain per year was about 
two hundred thousand. The population of the Island 
had risen about seven times, and the cost of war in 
youthful life about forty times." 



It goes without saying that many democrats deny 
the responsibility of democracy for the butchery. Alas ! 
the whole state of contemporary Europe gives them 
the lie. From end to end of that continent not one 
hereditary autocrat remains and (outside of Hungary) 
not one traditional aristocracy has the influence it had 
in 1914. It is true that the chaotic incompetence of 
self-government has produced an abundant crop of 
dictators, but not one of these has proclaimed himself 
king ; all but the Hungarian are men of the people, all 
but the Italian maintain a republican fa$ade, and all 
of them invite the people to legitimize government by 
their votes. In short, democracy has increased since 
1918. But is there a corresponding increase in 
peacefulness ? Do the European peoples love each other 
more than they did ? Precisely the contrary is the case. 
The ablest American writer on foreign affairs, Frank H. 
Simonds, in his book Can Europe Keep the Peace ? has 
recently shown how democracy exasperates conflicting 
nationalisms instead of reconciling them. The present 
writer suspects that the worst bunch of autocrats known 
to history say Nero, Heliogabalus, Caesar Borgia and 



DEMOCRACY AND MASS MASSACRE 127 

Louis XV given the Europe of 1919, would long ago 
have mustered up enough collective intelligence and 
goodwill to make something of it. 

Meanwhile, one reason why pacifists bleat so hopelessly 
is that they have not seen or dare not say that democracy 
itself is the source of much, if not most, of the evil they 
are attacking. Without democracy, although a certain 
amount of war will always be inevitable, nevertheless 
its ferocity and destruction might be kept within bounds 
by setting up governments independent of election and 
therefore not compelled alternately to rouse popular 
passion and to cringe before it. 

It is perhaps a hopeful sign that democracy, at least 
for the moment, is under a cloud. It is vulnerable 
enough aside from its military record. Nevertheless, 
that record is peculiarly adapted to refute one of the 
most often heard democratic arguments. Among 
believers in the superior virtue of the unwashed and the 
superior wisdom of the ignorant, it has long been a 
favourite piece of democratic cant to say that the cure 
for the evils of democracy is more democracy. But 
after a glance at the wars of the democratic era 
this begins to sound a little too much like saying, 
" The cure for smallpox is more smallpox," or, " The 
cure for cannibalism is more cannibalism." In the 
Action Franpaise (the French Royalist newspaper and 
one of the best written in Europe), Maurras, Leon 
Daudet and Bainville are fond of calling democracy 
" L'Anthropophage," the eater of men. It began and 
has continued in blood. If no better way can be found 
for ending it, then in the name of the peoples whom it 
devours by the million may it be ended in blood. 



PART III 
SINCE 1918 



CHAPTER VIII 

NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY 
DISARMAMENT 

THE problem of disarmament is that of limiting 
Napoleonic war. For a century the Emperor has 
hypnotized the world, but especially he cast his spell 
upon soldiers, and ever since they have been content 
to build upon the foundations he laid ; to a man the 
Generals of 1914-18 had been trained in his school. 
Therefore to understand twentieth-century war we 
must grasp the leading ideas of Bonaparte and the 
reasons for their survival. 

First of all Napoleon at his height always aimed 
at the total overthrow of the hostile country. To us 
this seems natural enough. Accepting the truth that 
wars are not waged for their own sake, that they are 
only the continuation of peace-time policy and therefore 
always seek a political object, we think it a 
commonplace almost a truism that the political object 
should be unlimited. In reality the total overthrow of a 
hostile country is in no way essential to war, and in the 
foregoing chapters we have seen that it was seldom 
the military object of the Roman Empire, the Middle 
Ages, or the Eighteenth Century. We take it for granted 
only because of the Napoleonic hypnosis. 

The means by which the Emperor was able to crush 
the great powers of Europe was the huge mass of his 
armies. Numbers had always been most important 
in war, but we have seen that eighteenth-century armies 
had been small because governments were then 

131 



132 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

accustomed to fight only for limited political objectives ; 
to put one and a half per cent, of the population under 
arms was an extraordinary effort. These small numbers 
were a working guarantee against large-scale wars, 
since no invader could occupy an entire country; to 
enter a hostile capital was almost unheard of. Bonaparte, 
however, inherited from the French Revolution the 
system of compulsory universal service. Fully mobilized, 
a conscript country puts into the field no less than ten 
per cent, of its total inhabitants nearly seven times 
the highest eighteenth-century proportion. This device, 
to which the Republic had been driven by the dissolution 
of the French Regular Army, suited the democratic 
ideas; equality before the law implied equality of 
obligation. To destroy the specialization of the soldier, 
returning to the practice of simpler societies in which 
every man had been a warrior, fitted the romantic- 
naturalist desire for primitive simplicity, the stock-in- 
trade of the democratic philosophers. Primitivism, 
beginning in the cult of the shepherdess, logically 
reproduced the barbaric horde ! Napoleon, the soldier 
and inheritor of the Revolution (which in everything 
he sought to regularize and carry forward) continued 
the conscription. 

It goes without saying that the Emperor's mind was 
anything but primitive. In his youth he had indeed 
been bitten by the fashionable folly of the Noble Savage ; 
his favourite reading had been the barbaric chants of 
Ossian, but the disgusting sight of the filthy Egyptian 
fellahin, with flies crawling unmolested on their eyelids, 
had cured him. So in the matter of generalship, the 
simple device of having a larger army than his enemy 
was by no means his only resource. When inferior in 
total numbers he would manoeuvre in the hope of making 
himself superior at least at the decisive point ; in his 
first and last campaigns, when circumstances reduced 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 133 

his total numbers below those of his enemies, he often 
succeeded in so doing. But clearly it was easier to 
obtain local superiority through total superiority, so 
whenever he could that is, in liis middle period, as 
master of an unexhausted France he tried to outnumber 
the armies he was to meet. 

Bonaparte's method shows that he appreciated the 
possibilities of the enormous conscript armies which the 
Revolution had placed in his hands. " In war," he 
said, "I see only one thing, the masses. I try to 
destroy them, sure that the lesser things will fall of 
themselves." 

We saw in the sixth chapter that the commanders 
of the little eighteenth-century armies tried to spare 
civilian lives and property, and in the second chapter 
that all professional armies must be used with discretion 
because their trained men cannot be easily replaced. 
I now repeat that the eighteenth-century tactics had 
depended upon a high training and discipline which 
could not quickly be drilled into men but were matters 
of years, so that campaigns had therefore resembled a 
modern French duel with rapiers, in which neither 
duellist will risk a headlong offensive for fear of laying 
himself open to a fatal counterstroke. The reader 
should also remember that the desire to economize life 
explains the importance of fortresses and entrenched 
lines in the eighteenth-century wars. 

On the other hand Napoleon, at the head of conscript 
France, fighting against the professional armies of the 
legitimate sovereigns, was like a gambler whose purse is 
so full that he can afford to plunge. To aim at the 
total overthrow of an enemy implies boldness from the 
start. Conscription gave huge numbers, and up to a 
certain point the Emperor was able to combine numbers 
with rapidity. Disregarding territorial objectives, he 
would hurl his mass upon the enemy's main army, 



134 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

perpetually attacking and always seeking a prompt 
decision by battle. In a suspiciously neat saying, 
revealing at once the schematic, over-logical mind of the 
Latin and the ascendancy of mathematical formulae 
over eighteenth-century thought, he said concerning 
rapidity that the strength of an army could be measured 
like the impact of a moving body in physics, you had 
only to multiply its mass by its velocity. The maxim 
neglects quality as opposed to quantity ; in rating so 
high the importance of mere quantity, the Emperor 
was a true child of the democratic era. 



Because the nineteenth-century mind was in general 
sympathetic to Napoleon, his cult survived his fall. 
Such earth-shaking campaigns as his were impressive 
enough in themselves, but in addition his very weaknesses, 
his megalomania, self-intoxication and inability to check 
himself, were not mere personal defects. They were 
part of a vast intellectual and spiritual current which 
continued to flow. The most influential teachers of the 
democratic movement continued to proclaim such short- 
comings to be the sum of virtue, exalting instinct over 
reason, "self-expression" over self-restraint, adventure 
over stability, personal whim over universal human 
experience in which opinions the romantic movement 
of yesterday and the naturalism of to-day are one. We 
smile at the absurd phrase "Napoleons of industry" 
applied to successful merchants of corsets and lingerie. 
Nevertheless the spifit of unlimited competition which 
was until yesterday the soul of the business world 
continued in its own debased fashion the unlimited 
lust for power of the Corsican. Defeated, he continued 
to haunt the imagination. 

Military thought partook of the spirit of the time. 
Because the dominant romantic-naturalist movement 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 135 

loved speed, boldness, adventure, and excitement for 
their own sakes, therefore the nineteenth- century 
statesmen and soldiers insufficiently analysed the reasons 
for the Emperor's failure. The 1 nineteenth-century 
time-spirit, combined with the intellectual insufficiency 
of that century's educated soldiers, is still the root- 
problem of peace and war. While the desire to make 
war for an unlimited political objective that is, in the 
hope of completely crushing the hostile country is a 
matter for peoples and governments, not for soldiers, 
still our dearly - bought experience shows us two 
pitfalls of which the latter, had they been wiser, 
might have given timely warning : exhaustion and 
fortification. 

Napoleon's Empire had fallen through exhaustion ; 
his methods had worn out both his armies and his country. 
In the first place the soldier became physically exhausted. 
Not only did the eighteenth-century permanent fortresses 
and entrenched lines play a great part in eighteenth- 
century war because generals were then compelled to 
economize life ; this war of positions (which we have 
learned to call trench warfare) also limited the fatigue 
of the armies. The hardships of the fighting men were 
as carefully restricted as the numbers employed or the 
destruction inflicted upon the theatre of war. In the 
war of positions the soldier does not have to march 
long distances at top speed ; he is fairly well sheltered, 
and such supplies as remain within the defended area 
reach him more or less regularly. Napoleon's rapid 
advances and retreats were exhausting in themselves ; 
his soldiers almost always had to fight without shelter 
from the enemy, often they had to sleep without 
protection from the weather and eat what scraps they 
could find in villages already plundered. The writer 
would not suggest that these hardships were morally 
very terrible ; physical deprivation, once over, fades 



136 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

quickly from the memory. On the other hand, hardship 
carried beyond a certain point breaks down the physical 
resistance. 

Besides being physically exhausting to his soldiers, 
the Emperor's kind of war was economically exhausting 
to his peoples. The support of a conscript horde strains 
a community. If you can advance into hostile territory, 
then the strain can be eased a little by having your 
men live off the enemy's country, but this has moral 
and therefore political disadvantages : it rouses ill- 
feeling and thus stiffens resistance. Moreover the 
absence of your mass of conscripts from productive 
effort increases the tasks of those left at home. For 
a time the revolutionary enthusiasm upheld the 
Napoleonic armies and peoples ; the dream of a unified 
Europe, cleared of the dead lumber of outworn feudalism 
and reasonably governed, stirred men's blood. But as 
time went on and the strain of the vast campaigns 
continued, moral exhaustion began. The conscript who 
has seen class after class of his elders compelled to march 
away marches himself with lessened enthusiasm. The 
strain of continued losses begins to tell on the home 
front. The spirit of the Gallic Crusade died hard, but 
with time the French came to see the Emperor's battles 
less as the birth-pangs of a new world and more as 
interminable, useless butcheries. Napoleon's first great 
failure, in Russia, shook the foundations of his power ; 
within three years the material side of his effort had 
collapsed and he was on his way to St. Helena. 

The exhaustion t>f prolonged conscript war had 
borne only upon France. Except for Prussia, none of 
the Emperor's enemies had adopted compulsory universal 
service, and the Prussian conscripts had fought only 
three campaigns. Moreover, the revolutionary convulsion 
of society had roused such excitement and such violent 
passions that the new revolutionary-Napoleonic device, 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 137 

the nation in arms, was not seen in due relation to the 
existence of settled peoples. 

Looking back to-day upon Napoleon's era, one 
wonders whether the Emperor before he was blinded 
by his own greatness realized the brittleness of the 
huge % instrument he was handling ? He calculated so 
well the endurance of troops in terms of the one-day 
battle, exhausting his enemy with part of his forces 
while holding back large reserves to throw in late in the 
day, that one asks oneself whether he ever considered 
the problem in terms of national effort over a number 
of years ? Ferrero has recently suggested that one 
reason why the Corsican was always eager for immediate 
battle was because he appreciated the danger he ran. 
In his secret thoughts he may have worked out the 
logical sequence from social convulsion through intense 
excitement and violent effort, to sudden fatigue and 
complete collapse. If so, one reason for his hurricane 
offensives may have been the knowledge that his peculiar 
type of war demanded an immediate decision. 

If however, as Ferrero plausibly suggests, the Emperor 
did carry his study of exhaustion beyond the one-day 
battle into the analysis of a campaign and beyond that 
again into the field of prolonged national effort, he kept 
his thoughts to himself. Certainly none of his nineteenth- 
century followers understood the material with which 
they were dealing. All, intoxicated with quick decisions 
through rapid, violent and persistent offensives directed 
against the enemy's main army, neglected both exhaustion 
and fortification. 

To the generation which followed 1815 exhaustion 
was as much a part of the air they breathed as the 
revolutionary-Napoleonic excitement had been to their 
fathers. Thus the military problem which occupied 
the old age of Napoleon's commentator Clausewitz was 
not the complete overthrow of France ; he well knew 



138 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

that no such colossal effort was within the scope of his 
time. His study was how to prevent France, still greatly 
superior in resources to his own Prussia, from further 
increasing her superiority by annexing Belgium. Through- 
out Europe the generation which followed Napoleon was 
as heartily sick of great wars as our own time ; moreover, 
the governments were anti-democratic. Thus perhaps 
after 1815 the nineteenth-century soldiers did not stress 
the matter of exhaustion because they knew that while 
they lived great wars would remain morally impossible. 
They may well have said to each other that no government 
would ever risk a repetition of what they themselves 
had seen. 

Besides neglecting the possibility of national 
exhaustion in war, the nineteenth-century soldiers 
underrated fortification. Because the prepared defensive 
had played little part in Napoleon's wars, most of his 
successors believed that it had been rendered obsolete 
by his masses, his sweeping offensives, and his great 
victories in the field. It is true that the masses changed 
the scale of everything in war, fortification included. A 
fortress capable of sheltering a garrison of a few thousand 
could not be neglected by a little eighteenth-century 
army ; if the army advanced, leaving the place in its 
rear, the garrison could operate on its communications ; 
if on the other hand a detachment large enough to 
"mask" the place and contain the garrison was left 
before the fortress, then the remainder of the field army 
was seriously crippled for operations elsewhere. The 
huge armies of the* Emperor's time could mask the 
little eighteenth-century citadels "in their stride," and 
go on about their business. The trouble had not been 
with the principle of fortification but with the scale of 
the existing fortresses. 

The object of fortification is to gain time. A defended 
area, if surrounded, must fall at last to mere blockade 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 139 

through exhaustion of its resources, but by providing 
shelters for your own men and obstacles against an 
enemy you can compel him to great and prolonged 
effort. A besieged garrison, while it holds out, can 
count on forcing the besieger to use against it numbers 
greater than its own, and the besieger may tire of the 
game or become so weakened by his losses that he can 
be counter-attacked. Meanwhile fortification gives a 
smaller force the power to postpone a decision. 

Now we have seen that a postponed decision was 
fatal to the success of Napoleon's methods ; in the 
critical Russian campaign of 1812, postponement through 
retreat had turned the tide against him. Not one 
nineteenth-century soldier seems to have asked himself 
what would become of the Napoleonic masses if a decision 
could be postponed through fortification ? 



For some time the cult of Napoleonic doctrine 
remained harmless, because the political circumstances 
of the middle nineteenth century forbade its practice ; 
not until more than fifty years after Waterloo did any 
great European power aim to crush another. From 
1815 until after 1870 France substantially abandoned 
conscription and was content with a professional army. 
Nevertheless a nucleus of the Napoleonic military system 
remained. Prussia continued conscript, adding universal 
training to the universal service of revolutionary- 
Napoleonic France. 

The Emperor's doctrine of war continued congenial 
to the prevailing romantic-naturalist mood, and as time 
went on the Prussian soldiers began to plan the complete 
overthrow of this or that great power by mass offensives 
directed against the hostile armies in Napoleon's fashion. 
Their victory over France in 1870-71 carried the 
Napoleonic doctrine everywhere ; it steadily became 



140 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

more absolute and more extreme although in every 
war from 1861 to 1914 the increasing defensive strength 
of modern weapons made fortification more and more 
valuable and cast deeper doubts upon the Napoleonic 
cult of the offensive. 

Worse still, the Prussian treaty imposed upon France 
in 1871 had the same weakness as those which had 
followed the Corsican's victories over Austria and Prussia ; 
although it left France a great power, it so humiliated 
her as to make reconciliation almost impossible. Instead 
of a true peace it produced the armed strain which was 
to last until 1914. 

The new allies of the defensive were industry and 
physical science. The American Civil War was the 
first war in which the infantry of both sides were armed 
with rifles ; it was Napoleonic in that both sides raised 
large armies, first by volunteering and then by 
conscription, and in that it was continued until the last 
armies of the South were on the edge of destruction ; 
it was anything but Napoleonic in its almost universal 
habit of entrenchment. The new hail of rifle bullets 
sent both sides to earth like rabbits ; out of every eight 
attempted assaults only one would succeed. By the 
Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 the infantry rifle had 
become a breech-loader and practically every frontal 
attack failed. When the Russians fought the Turks 
in 1877-78 the lesson was the same ; being weaker, the 
Turks entrenched and beat off superior numbers of 
Russians again and again. The Turkish entrenched 
camp at Plevna surrendered only after blockade had 
cut off the supplies and broken the health of its garrison. 
In the Boer War of 1899-1902 the rifle had become a 
magazine rifle, and very thinly-held fronts proved 
impossible to pierce ; a decision was reached only by 
the wearing down of the Boers. When a few years later 
the machine-gun had been added to the magazine rifle, 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 

the Japanese and Russians in Manchuria were equally 
compelled to entrench in order to live in the presence 
of the enemy. Russia made peace because of the danger 
of revolution at home. In the Balkan War the earth- 
work lines of Chatalja resisted every Bulgarian effort 
to break them. 

To-day it seems astonishing that these repeated 
warnings had so little effect. The Prussians dismissed 
the experience of Americans, Russians, Turks and 
British on the ground that none of them had a command 
and staff trained with Prussian thoroughness ; although 
1870-71 had discounted frontal attacks, nevertheless 
the Prussian conscripts had beaten the regulars of 
Napoleon III in a few weeks, thanks to superior artillery 
and to the offensive spirit used in enveloping the flanks 
of the defence. Their pupils the Japanese, if not 
successful in destroying the Russian armies, had 
undeniably defeated them. The Prussian soldiers not 
only clung to their Napoleonic cult of the offensive at 
any cost, they actually pushed it farther than the 
Emperor's generation had done. Even in the smooth- 
bore musket days, the Napoleonic high priest Clausewitz 
had at least insisted that the defensive, although not so 
fruitful in results as successful attack, was after all the 
stronger form of war. But Von Der Goltz as late as 
1883 could say in his Nation In Arms : " The idea of 
the greater strength of the defense is, in spite of all, a 
mere delusion. ... To make war is to attack." The 
side of Clausewitz which continued to impress the new 
Prussian generation was that of such sayings as : " He 
who uses force unsparingly and regardless of bloodshed 
must gain his object, if his adversary does not do 
likewise " ; they failed to consider, as Liddell Hart 
has recently remarked, that limitation might be due 
to political wisdom based upon self-interest. Instead 
the neo-Napoleonic Prussians took for granted that the 



142 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

complete overthrow of a hostile country would necessarily 
leave the victor better off than before. 

At the same time the Prussians were not altogether 
blind to the effect of the new weapons. Their doctrine 
of envelopment showed appreciation of the fact that- 
adequately defended fronts could no longer be broken. 
After the Russo-Japanese war they raised their proportion 
of machine-guns and provided themselves with heavy 
field guns and howitzers. Partly perhaps to distract 
attention from their intended sweep through Belgium 
by making the world believe that they intended to attack 
the French fortresses, they prepared trenclj mortars, 
hand and rifle grenades, searchlights, illuminating 
pistols, and periscopes. Thus, although their prevailing 
doctrine remained that of the offensive at any cost, 
they tempered it a little. 

On the French side there was even less qualification. 
Like all continental Europe, the Third Republic 
established conscription soon after the Prussian victories 
of 1870-71, thus returning to the system inherited by 
Napoleon from the First Republic. With Foch at their 
head, the new generation of French military thinkers 
were convinced that 1870 had established Clausewitz' 
theory of "unlimited," i.e. Napoleonic, war. The 
Prussians, they wrote, had beaten Louis Napoleon 
because unlike his uncle he had tried t\ < use regulars 
to gain a limited political objective, whereas they had 
planned to crush him completely by a conscript " nation 
in arms" full of offensive spirit. As in Prussia, the 
ruling doctrine went from bad to worse. Although Foch 
did not appreciate the inviolability of a front adequately 
defended by modern weapons, and although he 
exaggerated the importance of morale as opposed to 
material factors, still as head of the French War College 
he did not abandon caution, but insisted on maintain- 
ing large reserves to be thrown in late in the game. 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 143 

In the preface to the third edition of his Principles of 
War, he noted that in South Africa and Manchuria 
entrenchment had forced upon the attacker the job of 
breaking into a fortified position, so that the battle 
differed greatly from a Napoleonic combat in the open ; 
but he did not allow this important fact to change the 
main current of his thought. Worse still, Foch's 
successors, Maillard and Grandmaison, who formed the 
French war plan of 1914, were possessed by a veritable 
mania for the offensive. Will-power and aggressiveness, 
they said, could accomplish anything. 

Meanwhile a few doubting voices had been raised 
in the wilderness of military thought. One of these 
Was that of a certain Bloch, not a professional soldier, 
but a Jewish banker, living at Warsaw, then the capital 
of Russian Poland. In 1897, in The War of the Future 
the English translation was called Is War Impossible ? 
he predicted that modern weapons would do such 
execution as to prevent decisive attacks in the Napoleonic 
fashion. Universal entrenchment, he went on, would 
then turn future conflicts into gigantic sieges in which 
the decision would be made not by arms but by famine, 
"... the bankruptcy of nations and the break-up of 
the whole social organization." The General Staffs 
easily dismissed these theories of a civilian pacifist. 
After the Russo-Japanese war a few soldiers did suggest 
the possibility of general siege warfare ; in The Royal 
Engineers' Journal for January, 1907, the curious will 
find an article, " The Campaign of the Future/' by 
Captain (now Lieutenant-Colonel) C. E. P. Sankey, 
supporting Bloch's thesis. But everywhere the 
worshippers of Napoleon remained unshaken. Those 
who lifted their eyes from the technical to the social 
aspect of war, taking the wish for its fulfilment, assured 
the world that the condition of finance and industry 
would make future wars short. Everyone accepted 



144 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

the Napoleonic idea of the knock-out, the total defeat 
of the hostile country. Every continental European 
power was conscript. Everyone proposed to achieve a 
prompt decision by Napoleonic offensives at any cost. 
Each of these offensives must be delivered by unarmouced 
men, with the same thin skin and fragile bones as their 
remote ancestors, the same limited speed and weight- 
carrying ability. Each would be met by such an arsenal 
of weapons as had never been used on earth ; magazine 
rifles by the million, machine-guns by tens of thousands, 
these last playing to and fro streams of bullets like 
water from a hose. 

* * * * * 

The first shots were fired on the Western Front early 
in August, 1914, and in six weeks Napoleon had been 
knocked off his pedestal of a hundred years and Bloch 
reigned in his stead. The French were the first to come 
to grief. Blinded by the destruction of their Intelligence 
Department after the Dreyfus case, they tested their 
mysticism of the offensive in headlong attacks against 
the German front in Lorraine only to see their assaulting 
troops melt like wax in a fire. The German machine- 
gun defence was like a sausage machine ; the more meat 
you fed into it the more sausages it turned out. Next 
the German offensive failed in its turn ; their plan to 
turn the French western flank by coming through 
Belgium broke down. Instead of being enveloped, the 
French were able to counter-attack successfully on the 
Marne, and the Germans retired to the Aisne. On both 
sides the attempt at a Napoleonic opening had failed. 

Meanwhile the first stage of Napoleonic exhaustion, 
the physical exhaustion of the soldier, had appeared. 
Week after week both sides had pushed forced marching 
to the limits of human endurance, so that the Battle of 
the Marne was fought between armies half dead from 
fatigue. On September 4th, just a month after the 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 145 

crossing of the Belgian border, the German commander- 
in-chief told the German Foreign Minister: "We have 
hardly a horse in the army that can go faster than a 
walk." On the allied side the British army, in the path 
of the enveloping German right and on the outer edge 
of 'the great wheel which pivoted around Verdun, had 
been particularly hard pushed. In their retreat they 
had marched and fought constantly for thirteen days, 
on an average of four hours' sleep a night for infantry 
and three hours for mounted men. One of their officers 
said : " I would never have believed that men could 
be so tired and hungry and yet live." 

After mid-September the stage of entrenched 
immobility was reached. Presently it extended from 
Switzerland to the North Sea. For all their love for 
entrenchment and permanent fortification, the generals 
of the eighteenth century had never witnessed such 
stagnation of an entire campaign. There were no more 
flanks to be turned and for four years the machine-guns 
riddled every frontal attack. Even when in 1918 the 
Germans three times broke the allied front, the all- 
powerful defensive promptly re-established itself farther 
back. The conscript mass had lost its power to attack. 
Thanks to the intellectual bankruptcy of generalship, 
the bankruptcy of every national treasury was 
approaching. 

It is no pacifist, but the distinguished German General 
von Seeckt who asks in his book, Thoughts of a Soldier ; 
"To what military success did this universal levy in 
mass, this gigantic parade of armies, lead ? In spite of 
every effort the war did not end with the decisive 
destruction of the enemy on the field of battle ; for the 
most part it resolved itself into a series of exhausting 
struggles for position until, in the face of an immense 
superiority of force, the springs which fed the resistance 
of one of the combatants, the sources of its personnel, 



146 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

its material, and finally of its morale, dried up, although 
they were not exhausted. Has the victor really rejoiced 
in his victory ? Do the results of the war bear any just 
relation to the sacrifice of national strength ? Is it 
necessary for whole nations to hurl themselves upon one, 
another whenever recourse to arms is unavoidable ? 
The soldier must ask himself whether these giant armies 
can even be manoeuvred in accordance with a strategy 
that seeks a decision, and whether it is possible for any 
future war between these masses to end, otherwise than 
in indecisive rigidity." 

Before 1918, however, two new weapons, the plane 
and the tank, had escaped the curse of immobility. The 
plane, able to carry small numbers of men and small 
quantities of high explosives rapidly from place to place, 
showed a certain very limited power of annoying 
hostile cities. Toward the end of the war it also proved 
capable of doing something against ground troops. The 
tank, combining fire-power with armour and the ability 
to move over difficult ground, proved effective against 
the hitherto impregnable combination of machine-guns 
and barbed wire. On the other hand, neither plane 
nor tank is or can be a horde weapon. Cost alone 
would keep any nation from completely equipping its 
conscript masses as airmen or tankmen, just as it kept 
medieval states from fitting out every freeman liable 
to service with a war horse and a full suit of armour. 
Thus plane and tank are necessarily the weapons of an 
armed lite, like the medieval knights or the small 
eighteenth-century professional armies. 

The war against Germany added a third new weapon 
previously ruled out by international law, poison gas. 
Once used and known by both sides, however, it proved 
only an auxiliary to the other arms and never by itself 
achieved decisive results. 



NAPOLEON AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY DISARMAMENT 147 

Such, then, is the background of twentieth-century 
disarmament. The Napoleonic formula remains : every- 
one thinks of war in terms of the -total defeat of the 
hostile country, the conscript mass, and the quick 
decision which will paralyze the enemy and shorten 
the war. An official Italian report recently quoted in 
The New York Times said : " Victory in future wars will 
go to the country best organized and able to carry an 
offensive rapidly to the heart of the hostile country." 
But although the formula remains, its unity has been 
destroyed, because one conscript mass is no longer 
capable of a decisive attack against another. Short 
wars, if they are to be achieved at all, must be attempted 
by other than conscript means. Thus the ghost of the 
Emperor still walks although divided, like the ghosts 
which carry their heads in their hands in the old stories. 
Our problem is to give rest to that uneasy spirit. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 

NOWADAYS we hear much about the frightfulness of 
future wars. Our flesh is made to creep and our blood 
to curdle with prophecies of cities destroyed over-night 
by aeroplane bombs and of whole peoples wiped out 
by poison gas. It has become a familiar saying that 
in the next war the safest place will be the front line 
trenches. Nothing, we are told, will restrain the airmen. 
The Italian General Douhet and his followers, including 
General Mitchell, the former Chief of the U.S. Army 
Air Corps, insist that air attack against hostile cities 
will be the most effective form of future offensive. They 
predict such terrible results that wars will be over in a 
few days. General Douhet 's book " La Guerra de 19 . ." 
imagines a Franco-German war finished within forty- 
eight hours. 

Now it is true that the technical object of war is to 
convince the hostile community that it is not worth 
while going on. The destruction of the hostile armies 
may or may not be a necessary means to that end ; 
just so a policeman may or may not have to kill a 
dangerous criminal in- order to overpower him. In war, 
even if the political object be the total overthrow of the 
hostile group, still the less incidental destruction the 
better. To make destruction an end in itself, as so 
many neo- Napoleonic generals did, is merely part of 
the democratic twaddle ; it is part of the gloomy 
melodrama of the romantic-naturalist movement which 
finds it easier to emotionalize than to think things out. 

148 



THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 149 

If then the will of a hostile country could be broken by 
air attack upon cities, then such attack, however 
barbarous, would be a technically .effective instrument 
of war. Further, if Douhet and his followers are correct 
in ^anticipating very rapid decisions through the bombing 
and gassing of civilians, then it is possible to argue that 
even such savagery as this may be more merciful in the 
end than a longer war. 

What then are the chances ? I maintain that in so far 
as the facts in the case can be estimated they are dead 
against the frightfulness-mongers and prophets of doom. 

The first of these facts is that the chief modern 
exponent of frightfulness was beaten. The term became 
a household word during the Great War. First used 
by the German Emperor in 1900, in a speech to his troops 
on their way to China to fight the Boxers, after 1914 
it became a label for all violations of treaties and of the 
rules of war. The German invasion of Belgium in 
violation of a treaty they themselves had signed, their 
initiative in the use of poison in the form of gas, their 
sinking of merchantmen without putting those on 
board in safety, were the chief examples. That Germany 
led the way to frightfulness no one can deny ; had she 
won the war then the case for its future would be stronger. 
Instead her frightfulness caused her defeat. Her invasion 
of Belgium brought England in against her, although 
the British Cabinet decided for war only by a majority 
of one ; her unrestricted submarine campaign brought 
in the United States ; her sinking of the Lusitania 
came just in time to help convince the Italians that they 
were fighting against barbarians ; in short, her own acts 
increased the number and determination of her enemies. 
Since without frightfulness she would certainly have 
won, it is a little hard to prove from the record that 
such conduct pays. 

It will not soon be forgotten that each time Germany 



150 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

gambled neutral opinion against the hope of immediate 
victory she lost. Whenever some future violation of 
the laws of war is under discussion some realistic man 
will rise and say : " Remember Imperial Germany. 
Suppose your scheme doesn't work ? " Frightfulness, 
unless it proves an immediate and overwhelming success, 
has shown itself the worst sort of boomerang. 

It is true that when dealing with barbarians or 
helpless Chinese the political disadvantages of f rightfulness 
are less. But even against barbarians the disadvantages 
are there. The great French Marshal Lyautey, the 
conqueror and organizer of Morocco, strictly limited 
the use of the aeroplane against the natives. In the long 
run, he said, he wanted them willingly to consent to 
French rule. Bombing villages from the air hindered 
rather than helped his purpose, because the aeroplane 
bomb is an undiscriminating weapon which might injure 
the best friends of the French in any given village. 
Furthermore, the Moroccans, having no planes themselves, 
thought their use unsportsmanlike. Lyautey, therefore, 
insisted that beating them in what they would consider 
a fairer fashion was more apt to persuade them to peace 
and contentment. 

As between great powers the political disadvantages 
of frightfulness are enormous. Suppose that war breaks 
out to-morrow in Europe, and that one side, whom we 
will call belligerent A, opens the ball by bombing the 
capital of belligerent B. And suppose further that 
the first bomb lands iii a group of Americans, among 
them the American Ambassador. Assuming that the 
other side had been wise enough not to go in for bombing 
cities, they would have reason to congratulate themselves 
on their self-restraint. 

Certain recent English military writers admit that 
the political argument and the respect for treaties will 
prevent the bombing of cities promptly after a declaration 



THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 

of war ; but say that later, as tales of hostile atrocities 
multiply and feeling rises, opinion will approve such 
measures. To this the answer is that by that time the 
enemy will be technically in far better shape to resist 
si^ch attacks. In most of the cities which afford good 
targets, anti-aircraft batteries will have been mounted, 
shelters provided, and so on. For frightfulness to have 
its full effect it must go into action at once. 

To speak of shelters and anti-aircraft guns brings 
up the technical side of the question. No matter how 
strong the political argument, future statesmen and 
soldiers may be tempted to forget the failure of Germany, 
should an up-to-date form of frightfulness promise 
large immediate results. It is true that the range of 
planes has increased. The bomber of to-day can travel 
about half as far again as good machines of similar 
type in 1918, but that is not a startling change. The 
effectiveness of bombs is about the same, and experts 
seem to agree that the near future has in store no great 
increase in the effectiveness of explosives or of poison 
gas. The eminent British chemist, J. B. S. Haldane, 
in his Callinicus, says it is most improbable that any 
new or more poisonous chemical will be found. The 
superiority of fighting planes over bombers is about 
what it was at the Armistice ; the former are faster, 
handier and able to climb more quickly. 

On the other hand, the means of locating and dealing 
with bombing planes have been greatly improved. For 
night work sound-locators are available in combination 
with searchlights. Radio communication between planes 
and the ground is all to the advantage of the defence, 
because a plane is so much more easily seen from the 
earth than from another plane in the air. Such com- 
munication is not yet perfect, but it is improving. 
Whereas in 1918 the fighting planes of the defence, 
once in the air, had to look for the enemy attackers 



152 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

themselves and often missed them, already the defenders 
on the ground can radio to their fighting planes the exact 
location and course of the oncoming bombers. 

But the greatest disadvantage to future bombers 
will be the improvement in anti-aircraft gunnery. Xhe 
gunners of 1918, although a little better than thotfe of 
a year or two before, would blaze away salvo after salvo 
without coming near their flying targets, but future 
planes will not escape so easily. To-day there are fifty- 
calibre anti-aircraft machine-guns, mounted in fours, 
controlled by a single hand and spouting a quadruple 
stream of tracer bullets half an inch in diameter which 
can be played to and fro like the water from a hose ; 
up to two thousand yards they are deadly. The three 
and five-inch guns which do the more distant shooting 
are sighted in accordance with new Directors, uncanny 
machines which need only to be seen at work for their 
deadliness to be appreciated. With their aid target 
after target can be riddled in quick succession. 

Airmen object that peace-time targets, sleeves of 
doth towed by planes, cannot dodge as free planes could 
because the towing plane must fly almost straight in 
order to keep a strain on the long tow-line. But so 
must a pilot fly in a straight line in order to bomb 
accurately. Furthermore, bombers must fly in formation 
to protect each other from the fighting planes of the 
defence ; an isolated single bomber is easy meat for a 
fighter which gets above him " on his tail " and swoops 
on him like a falcon.- Planes which are continually 
changing height, direction and speed cannot keep in 
formation. Therefore, either the guns of the defence 
or its fighting planes should be able to operate effectively 
enough to make air raids costlier to the raiders than 
their results will be worth. 

The one way for future planes to escape anti-aircraft 
guns altogether would be to fly at heights seldom if 



THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 153 

ever reached to-day. A well-known transatlantic aviator 
recently suggested that future bombers would desert 
our atmosphere for the upper "stratosphere." But 
surely it is obvious that if planes are to climb higher, 
then they will be able to do so only by carrying lighter 
bom\s, and equally obvious that accuracy of bombing 
must diminish as the height increases. Before a pilot 
rose very high in the stratosphere he would not have 
the least idea whether he was bombing Central Park, 
or the Hudson River, or the Jersey flats. 

The whole rivalry of plane versus gun is an example 
of what seems to be a constant law of war, i.e. that to 
every new device a counter can in time be found. The 
new device, therefore, will be most effective when first 
made practicable. The counter when found limits the 
effectiveness of the original device and thereafter 
improvements offset one another. Thus there was a 
moment a little over four hundred years ago when 
gunpowder and the first competently cast cannon bowled 
over the medieval fortresses as promptly as the great 
howitzers bowled over Lige and Namur in 1914. But 
within a generation the sixteenth-century engineers 
learned how to build fortresses in which cannon could 
be effectively mounted for counter-battery work against 
th3 besieger. Whereupon sieges became long and costly 
affairs, and remained so as late as the defence of Port 
Arthur in 1904. Indeed, we see the experienced soldiers 
of France returning to permanent fortification to-day. 

So it is with gas. As yet the most successful gas 
attack was the first that clumsily launched from 
cylinders by the Germans atYpres in April, 1915. 
Counter-measures were soon taken, and there seems no 
reason to believe that the chemistry of prophylactics 
ind antidotes need lag far behind that of poisons. 

The effect of the new device is seldom annulled by 
the counter. The change is merely that its original 



154 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

sweeping successes can be repeated only against increasing 
obstacles. 

Even before counter-measures were organized, 
bombing from the air never won any striking successes. 
It put no nation out of action ; it never paralyzed a 
single city ; as far as the writer knows, it never destroyed 
so much as a single city block. Although never in 
England during the war, the writer was in Paris from 
time to time and used to walk about looking for damage 
caused by the air raids. On the whole the damage 
was trifling. Once in a long while one could find a house 
with its top story a little knocked about. Much the 
same story is told by the records of the still more intense 
German air effort against England ; about two hundred 
and eighty tons of bombs dropped in over a hundred 
raids killed 1,413 people and wounded 3,408, a flea- 
bite compared with battle casualties or even with 
American traffic accidents. One of the injured was an 
Anglican priest known to the writer : a German gas 
bomb burst close beside him, he was temporarily down 
and out, and eventually had to have some of the inner 
bone of his nose removed. But the one tangible result 
of the injury is that he is not allowed to dive when he 
goes swimming ; he still swims vigorously and plays 
a game of tennis very creditable to a man over sixty. 
The actual damage done by the Allied bombing of the 
German cities was about equally unsatisfactory to the 
bombers. Everywhere, compared with the effort 
expended, the material result was almost nil. 

It is true that on civilians the moral effect of air 
bombing was out of all proportion with the material ; 
anyone who has been through an air raid will remember 
the sickeningly helpless fright of the first experience. 
But with most people this effect soon grew less. Although 
far from unusually courageous, and although very badly 
frightened in their first raids, plenty of people soon 



THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 155 

preferred to stay in bed instead of going down to the 
cellar at an alarm merely because they convinced them- 
selves that the risk was less than that of travelling by 
night in a Pullman. The most sensitive class seemed to 
be factory workers. While on duty with the American 
Staff in France the writer was concerned with certain 
surveys preliminary to the proposed bombing of German 
factories in 1919. He therefore studied at some length 
the moral effect of bombing upon Allied factory workers. 
This effect was considerable, had little to do with the 
actual damage caused, and did not wear off with time. 
Each raid resulted in a real interference with production 
through absences from work next day, sometimes 
amounting to fifty per cent of the workers in the plant. 
Even at that most of the absentees would voluntarily 
return to duty on the second day and practically all 
on the third. 

As against the small results of bombing hostile 
civilians, planes in the last war accomplished much in 
co-operation with ground troops. Air superiority was 
a most valuable asset to a commander. As football 
captains think sluggers doubtful assets to their own 
team because the slugger's vendettas with individual 
opponents keep him from following the ball, just so 
future generals will certainly oppose distant bombing 
expeditions against the enemy's cities as wasteful 
diversions of force. They will try hard to keep every 
trained pilot available for use against the enemy's 
ground forces and against the airmen co-operating 
with them. 

It is perhaps worth noting that the American 
skyscraper would be an almost ideal fortress against 
explosive bombs. A few good horizontal layers of 
sandbags on the upper floors would burst such bombs 
as might strike the roof, while a similar vertical barricade 
would protect the lower two or three stories from 



156 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

explosions on the ground near the base. The people 
on the middle stories would enjoy both safety and 
comfort. They might be able to distinguish the per- 
formance from the usual back-firing of automobile engines 
in the nearby streets, but they would certainly have 
little to fear. The radius of demolition charges is known 
to every military engineer, and to cut a steel girder 
you must put the charge directly on it and tamp the 
explosive well down. If abnormally large bombs were 
used, that would reduce the number which could be 
carried and correspondingly shorten the period of 
bombardment, thus lowering the moral effect which 
has so far been the sole important result of air bombing. 
As to gas, chemists in their franker moments admit 
the almost insuperable difficulties of using it effectively 
on any scale. No gas is more deadly or harder to detect 
than carbon monoxide, and the exhaust fumes from a 
running automobile engine will render deadly the air 
of a small closed garage within three minutes, but how 
many of us are a penny the worse for the tons of this 
deadly gas released daily in every city by automobiles ? 
In February and again in April, 1932, Major-General 
Gilcrist, Chief of the U.S. Army Chemical Warfare 
Service, minced no words in saying that the common 
bugaboo of whole city populations instantly wiped out 
in the next war is ridiculous : " In the first place, a 
plane would have to fly at an altitude no greater than 
four hundred feet to cause even the slightest damage, 
and when you consider that many of Manhattan's 
buildings reach an altitude of a thousand feet and more, 
you begin to realize the impossibility of danger from 
gas attacks. I would have no fear at all in going into 
any second-story room of a building, closing the windows 
and doors, and without any gas defence at all I would 
watch through the window while the air currents and 
breezes wafted the fumes away." 



THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 157 

Against the threat of air bombing, whether by 
explosives or gas, plenty of cheap and easily-constructed 
means of passive defence are available. The New York 
Times for August yth, 1932, reproduced a photograph 
of a French device, a little cylindrical shelter of reinforced 
concrete, with a strong steel door. Inside, with gas 
masks and a tube of oxygen, several persons could live 
in safety during air raids. If it be objected that such 
preparations would be a great nuisance, the answer is 
that until recent times most cities were fortified as a 
matter of course ; there seems no good reason why it 
should not be so again. Proportionately to the moneys 
once spent on fortification, to provide abundant anti- 
aircraft batteries, means for laying huge smoke-screens over 
cities, and large steel nets hung from captive balloons 
to entangle hostile propellers, would be cheap enough. 

Incidentally, pacifists who oppose the building of 
abundant fighting planes seem to be among the best 
friends of future frightfulness, for the fighter is a check 
upon the bomber. Since commercial planes are easily 
converted into bombers, a diminution in the number 
of fighters would correspondingly increase the temptation 
to indiscriminate bombing. 

The most certain means to diminish the effect of 
air bombing would be to spread the population of cities 
so as to make them less attractive targets ; in military 
history most increases in fire power have been countered 
by increased dispersion. Every move to get people 
out of cities into the country would not only lessen the 
temptation to air bombing, it would also help to solve 
the grave social problem of our present unhappy tendency 
to jam into wildernesses of asphalt, bricks, and mortar. 
In connection with the partial clearing of Paris in 1918 
under the GermaA planes and long-range gun, the French 
Admiral Castex remarks that there was a double benefit : 
he and others who stayed enjoyed the town the more 



158 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

for being less crowded, while those who left discovered 
new charms in the peace of the country-side. 

But even irrespective of counter measures, those 
who have analysed and studied war will be slow to fear 
air frightfulness. Its preachers smell too much of that 
constantly recurring bait, the desire to win by some 
trick without real fighting. In football a game -is some- 
times won by a trick play, but most winning teams 
are those better drilled than their opponents in some new 
variety of straight football. It is true that the plane 
has a certain new power to attack either military or 
non-military objectives far behind the front. But so 
has the submarine, for naval warfare has fronts of a 
sort : the coasts or the areas held from time to time 
by the surface fleets. Moreover, from 1914 to 1917 the 
German submarines operated under conditions more 
favourable, both politically and technically, than any 
likely to recur : politically they disregarded neutral 
opinion to an extent which no future government with 
the defeat of imperial Germany before her is likely 
to repeat, technically the Allied counter measures were 
for three years laughably inadequate. Disregarding 
the experience of commerce protection in past wars, 
the French and British obstinately rejected the convoy 
system and made little effort to strengthen their flotilla 
of armed small craft, contenting themselves with 
" patrolling " the trade routes after a fashion condemned 
in advance by the factors of time and space. Since 
no one knew when or where along a route a submarine 
might appear, the patrollers were never on hand when 
wanted. At that the German submarines did little 
serious damage until 1917, when, indeed, they came 
near success, but even then the position was soon 
re-established when the Allies at the eleventh hour 
adapted the well-tried methods of the old wars to the 
new weapons of the day. 



THE FUTURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 159 

The general principle of trying to win by raiding 
and commerce-destroying, that is by evading instead 
of beating the enemy's organized force, is an old fallacy 
which experience has demolished over and over again. 
Those curious in the matter may read the debates on 
commerce - destroying in the Revolutionary French 
Assernuh'es ; fervent orators eagerly promised to force 
Britain to her knees without the trouble of defeating 
her battle fleet. The French corsairs did indeed sink 
or capture much British shipping, but behind the cover 
afforded by the British battleships the British light 
craft were always able to keep the losses of their merchant- 
men well below the point of disaster. Again, take the 
cavalry raids of the American Civil War : certainly 
they impressed opinion and did damage, sometimes 
they really assisted the main fighting forces, but on other 
occasions they proved disastrous boomerangs. In April 
and May, 1863, the Federal cavalry raid under Stoneman 
on Richmond deprived Hooker of information and 
contributed heavily to his defeat at Chancellorsville. 
A few weeks later the absence of Jeb Stuart and much 
of the Confederate cavalry on a raid helped to cause 
the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg. On the contrary, 
the decisive cavalry work of the war was done in co- 
operation with the other arms ; in the end Grant forced 
Lee's surrender at Appomattox by throwing Sheridan's 
cavalry corps behind the retreating Confederates, thus 
pinning them long enough for the main Federal force 
to come up. The idea of evasion blossomed again in 
naval thought during the 1890 's with the appearance 
of the self-propelled torpedo ; plenty of sea officers, 
and especially the so-called " young school " in the 
French service, hotly preached the possibilities of the 
fast torpedo boat. In the event the torpedo has altered 
both sea fighting and commerce-destroying without 
revolutionizing either. 



l6o CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

To state the principle of the inherent supremacy 
of a superior organized force as against evasion is by no 
means to favour the neglect of defensive measures 
against raiding. Without appropriate counter-moves 
there is always a chance, however small, that raiding 
might become decisive ; in 1917 the German submarines, 
after three years of failure, would certainly have gained 
a decision had the Allies not improved their anti- 
submarine tactics. So to-day European governments 
do well to prepare against air attack on their cities ; 
even down to masks and gas-disinfection squads, such 
preparations make this base form of warfare less tempting 
to hot-heads whose lack of honour is equalled only by 
their lack of judgement and their ignorance of past 
wars. Finally, there is always this to be said in favour 
of raiding : however impotent in itself to gain a decision 
it may be useful as a diversion. That is, you may be 
able to make your enemy weaken his concentration 
against your main force by detachments sent against 
your raiders. It is a military axiom that detachments 
from your own concentration are always justifiable 
when they keep a force of the enemy larger than them- 
selves out of the main battle, but that is no argument 
in favour of your raiders breaking the rules of war. 

Wise men have invariably been slow to prophesy. 
But if one had to predict one way or the other, as against 
the claims of wholesale destruction from the air, it would 
be more reasonable to say that frightfulness has no 
future. 



CHAPTER X 

DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 

ARMAMENTS exist only for the sake of some policy ; no 
human group would arm except for freedom to control 
its own affairs or to influence those of its neighbours, 
and armaments in excess of the needs of national security 
are danger-signals only because they indicate either 
muddle - headedness or aggressive intentions. The 
argument that armaments themselves cause war is 
itself an almost perfect example of muddled thinking : 
one might as well say that fire - engines caused fires. 
In 1861 the North and the South were both almost 
entirely disarmed, and yet their political collision resulted 
in a great war ; the amount of moral disunity, i.e. 
discontent, in any society will determine the amount 
of war in that society irrespective of armaments. 

Besides policy in the high sense, disarmament is the 
football of politics in the low sense, that is of the personal 
ambitions of the different sorts of men who exercise 
power in our own time. In so far as these are political 
office-holders, they are supposed to be " responsible " 
because they are " elected " by the votes of millions 
with little intimate knowledge of those for whom they 
vote. In reality our politicians are far less responsible 
than hereditary monarchs or aristocracies, for these 
last expected to hand on their power to their children, 
and therefore had the strongest of all human reasons 
to cherish their respective countries as men do their 
personal possessions ; whereas our politicians enjoy 
the limelight and the other real or imaginary advantages 
L 161 



l62 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

of power only like tenants on short leases. Accordingly 
as tenant farmers unlike owners are tempted to 
exhaust the land they temporarily hold, so politicians 
everywhere tend always to play a short-sighted game, 
looking only to the next election ; not to be elected 
means returning to the obscurity from which most of 
them came. Even more obscure is the influence upon 
them of finance, for financiers have raised secrecy and 
anonymity to a fine art. 

Before 1919 no disarmament treaties were in force ; 
international conventions did indeed establish certain 
rules of war, forbidding poison, attacks on hospitals 
and medical personnel, and certain calibres and shapes 
of rifle bullets which were considered to inflict inhuman 
wounds. There was also a considerable body of precedent, 
based chiefly on the writings of the seventeenth-century 
Dutch jurist, Grotius, whose aim was to safeguard neutrals 
and civilians. But no nation had entered into a legal 
engagement to limit the number or strength of its armed 
forces. 

The first twentieth-century disarmament treaties 
were those of 1919, which limited the armed forces of 
Germany and the other " Central Powers " defeated 
with her in the war of 1914-1918. All were on the same 
lines, and each prefaced its arms clauses with the 
statement that the defeated power in question undertook 
to observe strictly the restrictions laid upon her "in 
order to render possible the initiation of a general 
limitation in the armaments of all nations." Just what 
this preamble was intended to mean is uncertain ; it 
gave some colour of equality to the one-sided disarma- 
ment imposed upon the defeated states, but apparently 
it was never seriously meant. Doubtless it is explained 
only by the strange atmosphere of the exhausting war 
together with the hypocrisy of politicians. Responsible 
statesmen permitted themselves to talk like Messiahs 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 163 

announcing an immediate Apocalypse or Day of Judge- 
ment. One remembers Wilson's saying that a victory 
over Germany would "make the world safe for 
democracy" he might have been better employed in 
considering how, if at all, democracy might be made 
safe for the world and Lloyd George promising to make 
England " a land fit for heroes to live in." We cannot 
here discuss how far these men may have believed their 
own rhetoric ; if they believed it at all it must have 
been because of the intellectual flabbiness of the decadent 
Protestantism from which they came. At any rate, 
the preamble was inserted in each treaty. 

The Treaty of Versailles restricted the German army 
to four thousand officers and ninety-six thousand men, 
abolished conscription, compelled all officers to serve 
for twenty-five years and all enlisted men for twelve. 
Only five per cent, of either officers or men were allowed 
to be discharged in any one year. These provisions 
were intended to prevent the Prussianized German 
state from evading the numerical restrictions as Prussia 
had evaded those laid upon her by Napoleon after Jena 
in 1806 ; we have seen in previous chapters that she 
had then used the officers and non-coms, of the small 
army permitted to her as instructors of successive batches 
of short-service privates. Accordingly, the Versailles 
Treaty forbade military instruction outside the army, 
limited the number of police, customs officers, forest 
guards, and coastguards, and compelled the German 
army to organize itself in seven infantry and three 
cavalry divisions for which tables of organization were 
prescribed. All fortifications west of a line fifty kilometres 
eastward from the Rhine were ordered to be disarmed 
and dismantled ; no new works were to be constructed 
on the southern or eastern frontiers. Still more sweeping 
were the restrictions on equipment ; the German army 
was allowed only a fixed number of three-inch field 



164 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

guns and four-inch howitzers ; all larger pieces except 
fortress guns were forbidden. The manufacture or 
importation of arms was limited as well as the reserve 
supplies and ammunition stocks of the permitted 
weapons ; the manufacture and importation of poison 
gas, armoured cars, tanks, " and all similar constructions 
suitable for use in war," was prohibited. The naval 
clauses limited both personnel and materiel ; personnel 
to fifteen thousand with other limitations like those 
in the army clauses, matiriel to six old battleships, 
six light cruisers, twelve destroyers and twelve torpedo 
boats. Battleships and cruisers may be replaced when 
twenty years old, destroyers and torpedo boats when 
fifteen years old, but the individual tonnage of the 
replacement ships was limited to ten thousand tons for 
armoured ships, six thousand for cruisers, eight hundred 
for destroyers, two hundred for torpedo boats. All 
submarines, even of a commercial sort, were forbidden. 
The air clauses forbade to Germany any military or 
naval air forces whatsoever. 

Three similar treaties, even more sweeping as to 
navies, bound Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria ; the 
Austrian army was fixed at thirty thousand, the 
Hungarian at thirty-five thousand, and the Bulgarian 
at twenty thousand. There was also a treaty of the 
same sort binding Turkey, but this was soon superseded 
by the successful military action of Mustapha Kemal 
Pasha and his party. 

The prohibition -of war planes, submarines, large 
warships, poison gas, tanks and heavy artillery was 
accompanied by no statement condemning these military 
instruments. It is true that the use of poison gas 
which the Prussians had begun was directly contrary 
to the previously accepted rules of war, as was their 
use of the submarine ; they had also led the way in 
bombarding civilian centres, both from the sea and the 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 165 

air. On the other hand, the large warship, the tank or 
the heavy gun could hardly tempt their users to employ 
them unlawfully or wickedly. We must therefore believe 
that the idea underlying the prohibitions as a whole 
was merely that of weakening Germany ; such and 
such weapons were denied to her merely because they 
had proved effective. 

At all events the treaties of 1919 disarmed Germany 
and her former Allies in Europe as far as legal documents 
could do so. On the other hand, the political and 
economic structure of the Prussianized German state, 
although slightly amputated, was not destroyed. It 
was proposed to destroy that structure in various ways, 
by an independent Danubian state consisting of Bavaria 
and German-speaking Austria, by an independent state 
on the Rhine, etc., but none of these proposals were 
adopted. Again, the French proposed to annex the 
left bank of the Rhine and were dissuaded from doing 
so by Wilson's promise of a treaty by which England 
and the United States would guarantee the French 
frontiers. At Wilson's insistence the Versailles Treaty 
set up a League of Nations intended as a world-wide 
federation with vague but enormous powers to keep 
the peace by punishing aggressors. The United States, 
however, refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty because 
of unwillingness to surrender their national sovereignty 
to the League, and Wilson never even presented the 
Guarantee Treaty to the Senate for ratification. Behind 
the internationalist fa9ade of the League the moral 
reality of nationalism remained intact nowhere more 
so than in the German state, which although now a 
Republic continued to call itself the Reich, that is, the 
Empire. Historically, the policy and economics, both 
of Prussia and Bismarck's Prussianized German Empire, 
had always aimed to build up the armed strength through 
which power and wealth had been gained. Since 1918, 



l66 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

if any Prussian of importance has willingly accepted 
disarmament, that acceptance remains unknown to the 
world. Unanimously, at least so it would appear, the 
Prussians have tried to escape from the disarmed con- 
dition in which the Versailles Treaty sought to place them. 
In the first place the Prussianized Germans used 
every loophole left by the Treaty. While persistently 
objecting to the payment of reparations intended to 
make good the damage they had done, they poured 
out money on their little army and navy. The Treaty 
said that their army was to be used " exclusively " to 
maintain internal order and patrol the frontiers ; they 
made it the most effective force, man for man and 
weapon for weapon, in the world. Every soldier received 
as much military instruction as his intelligence could 
grasp ; experienced observers estimated that the little 
force of a hundred thousand could instantly provide 
officers and non-coms, for an army of four times its own 
numbers; one of every five enlisted men is a non- 
commissioned officer. The preface of the regulations 
signed by General von Seeckt for " leadership and combat 
of troops of all arms operating together" takes pains 
to say that it is based upon " the effectives, armament 
and equipment of the army of a great, modern military 
power, not solely the German army of a hundred thousand 
as in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles." The 
German navy has put forward a new type, the so-called 
"pocket battleship," of which one is nearly completed, 
another is under construction, and the money for a 
third has been voted. These ships cost about twenty 
million dollars each, about twice as much per ton as 
an ordinary battleship with a riveted hull, supposing 
wages and prices to be the same. But, thanks to this 
lavish outlay, they are able to save weight by sub- 
stituting electrically welded for riveted hull plates, 
and by other devices. Consequently, within the Treaty 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 167 

limit of ten thousand tons they combine a battery of 
six eleven-inch and eight six-inch guns with a speed of 
twenty-six knots and a radius of action of ten thousand 
miles at twenty knots. They are the most powerful 
ships of their size in the world, and are faster than any 
warship of equal protection and hitting power. 

To escape the Treaty limitations upon weapons and 
stocks of ammunition, there is reason to believe that 
German armament firms have gone into Russia and 
especially into Holland. In Russian arsenals there 
are said to be large stocks of shells and heavy guns 
belonging to Germany. 

At the same time no one can fail to see that Germany 
has at least sailed close to the wind in evading the 
Treaty. The three hundred thousand men of the Schupo, 
i.e. militarized police, have been armed with rifles which 
do not seem either necessary or well adapted to the 
task of maintaining civil order. There is a large, well- 
organized and well -drilled semi-military organization 
known as the National Socialist or Hitlerite brown- 
shirt militia, which (although it does not give full military 
training) certainly counts for something. Further, 
President von Hindenburg in August, 1932, announced 
that the Government would give to all young Germans the 
benefits of camp life and physical instruction in the open air. 

At the same time, in an industrial country like 
Germany the unvarying principle that the tools and 
products of peace are potential weapons of war operates 
against the Treaty provisions prohibiting such equipment 
as war pknes and poison gas. Germany has developed 
her civil aviation with the help of government subsidies, 
and to convert a civilian plane into a bomber is easily 
done. To convert a fast civil plane into a fighter is a 
little harder, but not very difficult. Airmen are said 
to be in training in Russian camps. While the German 
chemical factories are intact the Reich has the power 



168 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

to manufacture poison gas promptly and in great 
quantities. 

We need not here discuss whether or not there have 
been bold and sweeping violations of the Treaty within 
Germany itself. It will be enough to note that Prussia 
has not always strictly observed her treaty obligations ; 
the world will not soon forget how the Chancellor of the 
Reich in 1914 called the treaty guaranteeing Belgian 
neutrality " a scrap of paper." At all events " where 
there's a will, there's a way," and certainly the will of 
Prussia was not disarmed by the Versailles Treaty. 
Legalism has its limits, as the United States has dis- 
covered in the matter of prohibition ; many sorts of 
"bootleg" armament are almost as easily provided as 

"bootleg" liquor. 

* * * * * 

Before the entire question of disarmament was 
again re-opened three international conferences attempted 
to deal with naval disarmament alone. The legalistic 
method is better suited to dealing with war-ships than 
with land and air weapons, because a ship is so large 
that it cannot be concealed. Further, the policies of 
most of the sea powers were not so far apart as to prevent 
a certain limited but real success. 

After the war naval construction ran riot among 
the three chief naval powers, Great Britain, United 
States and Japan. In 1914 the battleship and battle- 
cruiser fleets of the world were as follows : 

British United 

Empire. France. Italy. Japan. States. Germany. 
Built . . . . 29 (a) 4 2 6 10 20 

Building . . 10 8 (6) 4 3 4 4 

Totals .... 39 12 6 9 14 24 



(a) Not including three ships building for foreign powers : 
Agincourt and Erin (Turkey), Canada (Chile). 

(b) The work on these was stopped when War broke out. Only 
three of the eight were completed afterwards. 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 169 

When peace was signed in July, 1919, the figures 
stood thus : 

British United 

Empire. France. Italy. Japan. States. Germany 

Built .. ..39 6 5 ii (c) I? 
Building . . I (a) 2 (d) 4 (e) - 

Totals . . . . 40 6 5 (b) 13 21 



Early in the century England, under Lord Fisher, 
had led the way in the construction of very large ships 
of the so-called Dreadnought type ; the first-class battle- 
ships of 1904 had cost about seven and a half million 
dollars each, the latest monsters about thirty-five millions. 
Moreover, these monsters, displacing not quite thirty- 
five thousand tons, were soon to be exceeded by a British 
super-monster of forty-two thousand tons. In 1919, 
at the root of all the frantic building, there was only 
the war-time habit of spending, together with a post-war 
chaos as to national policies. People talked wildly of 
the chances of war between the United States and 
England, still more of conflict between the United 
States and Japan, although it is hard to see how at 
the moment any of the three could have profited by 
fighting. British policy was particularly bent on 
friendship with the United States. Between the United 
States and Japan there was real friction ; the Japanese 
feared the great numbers and wealth of America. The 

(a) Hood. 

(b) Leonardo da Vinci had been sunk during the War. 

(c) Includes Satsuma and Aki. 

(d) Nagato and Mutsu. Mutsu laid down in June, 1918. 

(e) California, laid down October, 1916 ; Maryland, April, 1917 ; 
Tennessee, March, 1917 ; Colorado, May, 1919. Others were projected 
(Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana). It will be observed, 
however, that only three were measurably advanced, the Colorado 
but a few months. 



170 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

American-owned Philippines, if indeed they could be 
held in a war against Japan, would provide an advanced 
base from which the essential sea communications of 
the latter might be cut. In America, on the other 
hand, it was known that Japan was driven both by 
necessity and ambition. Necessity forces her to expand 
because of her limited territory and increasing population ; 
her ambition has been shown by her seizure of Korea 
and her repeated efforts to encroach upon China. 
Nevertheless, the problem was not insoluble ; the 
Japanese well knew the American resources to be greater 
than theirs, and no American vital interest demanded 
an attack upon Japan. 

On the initiative of Hughes, an able lawyer of great 
experience in public affairs whom President Harding 
had made Secretary of State, a partial solution was 
found. At the Washington Conference of 1921-1922, 
England, America, Japan, France and Italy agreed 
upon a drastic programme for scrapping large quantities 
of recently or partially completed battleships. The 
scrapping, in which the United States was the heaviest 
loser, established a battleship ratio of 5 5 3 1.75 
1.75, as between England, the United States, Japan, 
France, and Italy. Not only the total tonnage of the 
fleets, but also the individual tonnage and armament 
of single battleships and cruisers was limited ; no 
battleship was to exceed thirty-five thousand tons or 
to mount guns of more than sixteen-inch calibre, no 
cruiser to exceed ten -thousand tons or to have guns 
heavier than eight-inch. At the same time, there was 
an agreement on the fortification of naval bases, the 
most important point being that the United States, 
in the interest of Japan, agreed to fortify no base in 
the Philippines or elsewhere west of Hawaii. All five 
powers agreed to observe the rules of war when using 
submarines against merchantmen. All told, therefore, 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 

a definite advance was made toward security with 
economy all round. 

On the other hand, the attitude of England made it 
impossible to limit the total tonnage of the cruiser fleets. 
A treaty abolishing chemical warfare was not ratified 
by all the powers and therefore did not take effect. 
Worst of all, the limiting of individual ships and gun 
calibres was arbitrary and haphazard, having little 
relation to the function of the ships in question ; it 
seems to have aimed chiefly at preserving certain 
existing types. 

The Washington Treaty was signed in 1922. Three 
years later the Council of the League of Nations set up 
a Commission to prepare a "Draft Convention" or 
tentative programme for a future disarmament con- 
ference to include all nations and to discuss all sorts of 
armed forces. 

In 1927 a second Naval Disarmament Conference 
was held at Geneva by Great Britain, the United States 
and Japan in the hope of restricting the total tonnage 
of their cruiser fleets. France and Italy, although 
invited, refused to attend. Nor were the three chief 
naval powers able to agree ; the British demanding 
a total tonnage so high that the treaty would have 
greatly increased American cruiser strength instead of 
reducing it, the Americans insisting on a total so 
low that the British said acceptance would leave 
them unable to protect their sea-born trade in time of 
war. 

Two years after the Geneva failure most of the 
nations of the world signed the treaty known as " The 
Pact of Paris," "The Briand-Kellogg (or simply the 
' Kellogg ') Treaty," which says that the powers abiding 
by it " condemn recourse to war for the solution of 
international controversies, and renounce it as an 
instrument of national policy in their relations with 



If* CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

one another." They further " agree that the settlement 
or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature 
or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise 
between them, shall never be sought except by pacific 
means." On the face of it, to renounce war as an 
instrument of policy is to renounce international war 
altogether, for obviously there can be no war between 
nations except to maintain conflicting national policies. 
It seems, on the other hand, that the treaty is generally 
understood to permit war in self-defence. Again, the 
agreement was widely heralded as accomplishing " the 
outlawry of war" which phrase showed an astonishing 
ignorance of what the word outlawry had always meant. 
To proclaim a man an outlaw is to permit anyone able 
and willing to kill him to do so without punishment ; 
of the many so proclaimed in the French Revolution 
only Napoleon survived. But to permit anyone to 
kill a man or, on the national scale, to attack a nation, 
is not exactly promoting the peace of the world. Also, 
it seems always possible to argue that any given war 
was not a war. If the reader think this only a flippant 
conundrum (" When is a war not a war ? "), let him 
remember that wars can be called " measures to restore 
order," " punitive expeditions," " force used for the 
maintenance of treaty rights," or almost anything else 
that one chooses. Finally, there does not appear a 
single nation on earth which has felt itself sufficiently 
secured by the Kellogg Treaty to reduce its armed 
forces by a single soldier or ship. 

In 1930 a third naval conference, this time including 
all the five sea powers, was held in London, at which 
the chief American delegate was Stimson, President 
Hoover's Secretary of State, a man inferior to Hughes 
in personality and in intellect. It was agreed that 
no more battleships should be laid down before 1936, 
a distinct gain as far as it went. The total cruiser, 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 



173 



destroyer, and submarine fleets were "limited" as 
follows : 



Categories. 

Cruisers : 

(a) With guns 



United 
States. 



United 
Kingdom. 



Japan. 



of 



more than 6 . i inches 
(155 mm.) calibre 

(6) With guns of 6 . i 
inches(i55 mm.) calibre 
or less 
Destroyers 
Submarines 



180,000 tons. 146,800 tons. 108,400 tons. 



143,500 tons. 

150,000 tons. 

52,700 tons. 



192,200 tons. 

150,000 tons. 

52,700 tons. 



100,450 tons. 

105,450 tons. 

52,700 tons. 



Thus the United States accepted a cruiser ratio 
slightly lower than that of Washington as regards Japan. 
Furthermore, the seeming American superiority over 
Great Britain in eight-inch cruisers was nullified by an 
American agreement to complete only fifteen out of 
the allotted eighteen before 1936. Moreover, the entire 
London Treaty was gravely weakened by the complete 
failure to get France and Italy to agree to any ratio 
whatsoever ; for the benefit of England a so-called 
" escalator clause " was therefore inserted, providing 
that if any contracting power felt itself threatened by 
new construction on the part of an outside power, the 
threatened state might then increase her own tonnage 
after due notice to the other signers. The other signers 
would then be free to increase their own fleets 
proportionately, so the whirligig of general competition 
would be set spinning merrily again. 

So matters stood when the first General Disarmament 
Conference since the Armistice, originally conceived in 
1925, met in Geneva in February, 1932. At Washington, 
ten years before, a limited but real step forward had 
been made because the differences of policy between 
the three chief naval powers were not such as to prevent 
a measure of agreement. On the other hand, the Geneva 



174 CAN WE L I MIT WAR? 

Conference of 1927 had failed altogether, and the London 
Conference of 1930 can hardly be said to have promoted 
either the security or the financial economy of any 
power. On the contrary, the Conference of 1927 had 
roused ill-feeling between Great Britain and America, 
while the London Conference had definitely increased 
international friction in Europe through the failure of 
France and Italy to agree and the consequent escalator 
clause. 

The Geneva meeting was faced with a much more 
difficult task. Disarmament, not only at sea, but also 
in the air and on land, were in question, and man is 
not a water but a land animal. Important though sea 
communication is, still navies alone can do no more 
than blockade, and few countries can be compelled 
to surrender by blockade alone. While armies can block 
land frontiers, they can also invade and occupy territory. 
Thus, navies can only invest an enemy ; armies can 
both invest and assault him. Moreover, land dis- 
armament was blocked by differences of policy far more 
bitter than those which divide the naval powers. There 
was Bolshevik Russia, necessarily opposed to all other 
states, with her Communist rulers expert at propaganda 
and at organizing insurrections. Since soldiers are first 
of all emergency policemen, it would strengthen 
Bolshevism to have all armies abolished by a stroke of 
the pen. Thus the cynical Russian dictatorship could 
support proposals for total disarmament precisely after 
the fashion recommended by the emotional cranks of 
all countries. Again, the powers defeated in 1918, and 
especially Germany, were and are at odds with the 
states whose positions are guaranteed by the treaties 
of 1919, that is, the French, the Belgians, the Poles, the 
Czechs, the Rumanians and the Yugo-Slavs. The status 
quo powers were Allied, they were all conscript, and all 
within the measure of their financial abilities had equipped 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 175 

themselves with the weapons forbidden by treaty to 
the defeated states heavy guns, tanks, planes, etc. 
Italy stood somewhat apart ; dissatisfied with the 
boundaries granted to her by her Allies of 1919, directed 
by the most active and perhaps the most intelligent 
government in the world, conscript like the French and 
their Allies, and possessing a powerful air force. On 
the other hand, she is poor, has neither metals nor fuel, 
and is vulnerable to naval blockade. England also 
took her own line. Still powerful at sea, she has a large 
air force, and her small army has equipped itself with 
tanks more lavishly than that of any other power. 
Nevertheless, her wealth is decreasing, her internal 
difficulties are great ; a new German fleet would seriously 
threaten her, and the French air force is close to her 
capital. In the Far East Japan moved in a world 
of her own ; powerfully armed, ambitious, and too far 
from the other powers for them to bring their full weight 
to bear upon her. Even as the Conference met she 
was using armed force at Shanghai and in Manchuria. 
Nevertheless, she is not rich, and her fragile economic 
structure could hardly support a long war. The one 
power pressing for disarmament was the United States ; 
secure behind her oceans, with her great navy, her 
considerable air force, and her tiny army ; her large 
measure of geographical security permitted her to think 
more of international trade and finance than of warlike 
preparations. Since it was possible to argue that money 
spent on such preparations diminished trade, American 
politicians were free to urge other peoples to disarm. 
As regards land armament they had no assets 
with which to bargain, for American soldiers and 
coast defences threatened no one, but at least their 
proposals could hardly endanger American national 
security. 

On the other hand, the European politicians were 



176 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

very differently situated. On that crowded continent, 
with its acute international friction, no nation could 
be indifferent to the armament of its neighbours, and 
each could be certain of the good faith of those 
neighbours only in so far as their interests coincided with 
its own. Every European delegate at Geneva was the 
prisoner of public opinion at home, he could cling to 
office only by disarming rival states and thereby 
strengthening his own country. 

Two world forces indeed supported the American 
desire for disarmament, the financiers and the emotional 
cranks of the world, but neither could be decisive. The 
emotional crank is a typical product of the democratic 
era : we have seen that the romantic-naturalist school 
dominant throughout that era has consistently preferred 
emotion to thought. When Wordsworth called the 
intellect "that base secondary power by which we 
multiply distinctions/' when Goethe, in Faust, wrote 
"feeling is all," they were swimming with the main 
current of democratic unreason which still carries with 
it the contemporary worshippers of " spontaneity," 
"self-expression," and whatnot. Indeed, democrats are 
compelled to take this line in order to prefer the inferior 
or common man to his superiors in training or ability. 
The one field in which the inferior can equal his betters, 
the one mood which all can spontaneously express, 
is that of the instinctive emotions which men share 
not only with each other but also with the animals. 
To the natural man Demotion is easy, and thought is 
not only difficult but painful. Hence the emotional 
cranks of the world, unable to analyse, let alone to 
remove, the underlying causes of unlimited war, 
descended upon Geneva in multitudes demanding the 
abolition of the weapons which were and are merely 
the instruments of the various warlike policies. 
Unfortunately for these people, the romantic-naturalist 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 177 

mood has never succeeded in exterminating reality, 
everywhere sensible men and women remain convinced 
that causes still produce appropriate results. 

The financiers, of course, are horses of a very different 
colour ; in their specialized field they are men of real 
ability, and their power over the world is enormous. 
In the matter of disarmament, however, their influence 
is doubly restricted. Many, if not most of them, are 
individually bound by race and sentiment to particular 
nations, so that their international self-interest is 
combated by patriotism. Moreover, they are so 
centred upon their absorbing profession that few of 
them are competent to discuss the technical riddles 
which any legalistic disarmament must solve. Con- 
sequently their influence was divided, and they seem to 
have had no programme. 

Meeting early in February, the Geneva Conference 
had before it a Draft Convention made out by the 
preparatory commission set up by the League of Nations 
seven years before. Notwithstanding the need for 
simplicity in any enforceable agreement, the document, 
as published in a pamphlet by the Carnegie Endowment 
for International Peace, covers no less than forty-two 
pages, thus furnishing a magnificent field for the bad 
faith or mere timidity of any nation tempted to play 
hide-and-seek with whatever attempts at enforcement 
might be made. Since without hard and long study 
no one can make head or tail out of a technical document 
of such length, the mere bulk of the report is an eloquent 
commentary on such popular catchwords as " govern- 
ment by opinion," "open diplomacy," etc. Had the 
drafters intended to puzzle world opinion with a mist 
of words, they could hardly have done otherwise than 
they did. Nor did all the elaborate verbiage cover the 
elementary facts in the case ; for instance, the chapter 
on military effectives ran to two pages of print and 

M 



178 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

more than four pages of tables, took into account the 
number of days of conscript service during a year, the 
birth-rates of the countries concerned, and covered 
" police forces of all kinds, gendarmerie, customs officials, 
forest guards, which, whatever their legal purpose, 
are, in time of peace, by reason of their staff of officers, 
establishment, training, armament, equipment, capable 
of being employed for military purposes without measures 
of mobilization, as well as any other organization 
complying with the above condition." It went on : 
" By mobilization, within the meaning of the present 
article, shall be understood all the measures for the 
purpose of providing the whole or part of the various 
corps, services and units with the personnel and matiriel 
required to pass from a peace-time footing to a war- 
time footing." But all this jungle of words contains 
not a syllable of the huge private armies existing in 
Europe, the Fascist militia whose numbers almost equal 
those of the active Italian army, the unofficial German 
units which far exceed the German regulars plus the 
militarized police. The naval clauses take up ten pages 
of print without mentioning either naval bases or 
merchant ships convertible into auxiliary cruisers. 
From the beginning, therefore, the Draft Convention 
invited the Conference to spin juridical cobwebs unable 
to stand against a single blast of reality. 

The twenty-five hundred odd delegates, assembling 
early in February, together with about forty-five hundred 
visitors, newspaper correspondents, and other satellites, 
spent several weeks in listening to speeches proposing 
programmes, each theoretically addressed to the other 
delegations, but really to the home public of each speaker. 
The French, more threatened than any other great 
power by possible future German action, proposed to 
organize peace by giving the League of Nations an 
armed force which should include all the long-range 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 179 

artillery and war planes of the world. Further, all 
civilian planes were to be supervised by the League 
to prevent their conversion into bombers or fighters. 
In general the scheme was familiar; as early as the 
Paris Conference of 1919 prominent Frenchmen had 
urged a League of Nations army. Moreover, it was 
logical ; the League must be a super-state or nothing. 
But no one expected the Conference to adopt it ; the 
French themselves put it forward merely to show the 
weakness of all other alternative plans and to give 
themselves a good reason for signing no disarmament 
treaty which did nothing to enforce peace. Accordingly, 
the Americans and British listened with cynical 
amusement. The British delegate began with the 
fundamental truth underlying the whole problem of 
peace and war : " Armaments are the symptoms 
of a pathological condition," but without trying to 
diagnose this condition he drifted towards " qualitative 
disarmament," i.e. the prohibition of particular weapons 
of an " aggressive " nature specifically chemical warfare 
and submarines. He also advocated a limitation in 
number of conscript effectives. Here again all present 
were on well-known ground ; obviously Britain herself 
would benefit enormously by the adoption of her own 
proposal ; non-conscript herself, limitation of the 
conscript armies of others would increase her relative 
strength. Most familiar and for Britain most important 
of all was the matter of submarines, to which she is 
more vulnerable than any other nation in that her vital 
communications pass over narrow waters close to possible 
hostile bases and shallow enough for submarines to rest 
at need on the bottom. The British orator saw fit to 
treat the French proposal with a lofty air of patronage. 
Unfortunately for himself, he loaded his speech with so 
many moral platitudes that not a few of the continental 
Europeans present openly laughed at him. Outdoing 



ISO CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

even the Draft Convention, the Americans brought out 
a still more elaborate scheme : proportionate naval 
reductions all round and especially an agreement between 
France and Italy, the abolition of submarines a new 
pro-British departure the protection of civilians against 
air bombing, abolition of deadly gases and of 
"bacteriological warfare" by spreading disease germs, 
limitation of the number of armies according to a formula 
which would set down first the numbers necessary for 
emergency police and second an additional contingent 
for defence, " special restrictions for tanks and heavy 
mobile guns, in other words for those arms of a peculiarly 
offensive character," finally a limitation of expenditure 
on war material. Italy and Japan went a little beyond 
the American and British proposals for qualitative 
disarmament : Italy offering to abolish capital ships 
of which she has none in active commission submarines, 
aircraft-carriers, heavy artillery, tanks, bombing aircraft, 
and chemical and bacteriological warfare; Japan 
proposing "to limit the use of submarines, reduce the 
tonnage of battleships and aircraft-carriers, to abolish 
bombardment from the air and the use of gas and 
bacteria." 

The Germans and Russians each struck an individual 
note. On the basis of the Versailles Treaty the Germans 
claimed equality, either in armament or disarmament. 
The Russian delegate he calls himself Litvinoff, but 
his real name appears to be Finkelstein argued in 
favour of the abolition of war through " total and general 
disarmament." In view of Bolshevik specialization in 
propaganda and the moral cleavage between Communist 
Russia and a non-Communist world, this proposal was 
made with tongue in cheek ; it can hardly have been 
intended to apply to the Ogpu, the one hundred and 
fifty thousand men of the heavily-armed Russian secret 
police who constitute the one Russian military body 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS l8l 

entirely composed of Communists. Failing complete 
disarmament, the Russian delegate was willing to abolish 
tanks, heavy artillery, war-ships -over ten thousand 
tons, aircraft-carriers, military airships, bombing planes, 
chemical and bacteriological warfare. 

Then followed the long parade of the small powers. 
Generally their views followed their policies, especially 
their alignment with one or the other great powers. 
Thus the Allies of France Belgium, Poland and the 
Little Entente supported the French view, while 
Holland and the Scandinavian States followed England. 
The Swedish delegate flashed a ray of good sense by 
reminding those present that conflicts had gone on 
irrespective of weapons ever since the day of the stone 
axe ; he would have been within the truth in carrying 
this argument much farther. The Dane observed that 
all the chemical factories of the world should be 
organized into an international cartel in order to make 
chemical disarmament effective. Some of the smaller 
states talked at random ; for instance, the delegate 
of the microscopic Dominican Republic, strutting his 
little hour on the world stage, solemnly said that since 
" the League of Nations desires to spread among the 
childhood and youth of the world ideals of peace, 
fraternity and international co-operation the Dominican 
Republic . . . has the honour to propose that the 
Conference should agree to recommend to all the countries 
here represented that they should agree to prohibit 
the manufacture of warlike toys/* In other words, he 
wanted to prohibit toy soldiers ! Unhappily, such 
gleams of unconscious humour were rare. The great 
states having spoken, interest waned ; the little nations 
talked on and on to bored delegates and emptying 
galleries. Meanwhile, the farce went on to an accompani- 
ment of tragedy ; through the Genevan cave of the winds 
there echoed the Japanese cannon firing at Shanghai. 



l82 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Radio apparatus might have made the delegates hear 
the actual explosions. 

There followed months filled with the pretence, but 
without the reality, of action. The Spanish delegate had 
some fun at the expense of the Russians by remarking 
that when the animals met to discuss disarmament : 
" The lion looked the eagle in the eye and said : ' We 
must abolish talons/ The eagle looked him full in the 
eye and said : ' We must abolish claws.' Then the 
bear said : ' Let's abolish everything but universal 
embraces.'" March began and ended with nothing 
done. Toward the middle of April the American 
delegation again pressed for qualitative disarmament 
by prohibiting "offensive" or "aggressive" weapons. 
The idea here is that aggression often involves invading 
someone else's country, and that invasion usually involves 
beating down his defending forces by offensive action 
on the field of battle. Therefore aggression was held 
to mean a tactical offensive in the actual fighting. 
Certain weapons favour the tactical offensive and 
increase the difficulties of the tactical defensive, especially 
large mobile guns which can batter defensive works, 
and tanks which destroy wire entanglements and cross 
trenches. Further, tanks and big guns are expensive. 
Gas was illogically added to the list of offensive weapons ; 
however horrible they may be, some gases favour the 
tactical defensive, particularly the persistent gases, 
for instance mustard gas, which remains long in an area. 

Unfortunately the idea of aggressive weapons will not 
stand examination. It hopelessly confuses the moral 
category of political aggression with the tactical categories 
of offensive or defensive in combat ; you cannot compare 
the colour yellow to a loud noise. A policeman who 
breaks down a door behind which a murderer has 
barricaded himself is tactically on the offensive, although 
morally he is defending society. Just so nation A may 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 183 

invade B merely to compel B to stop attacking C with 
whom A is allied worse luck, it is not impossible that 
we may yet see France invading Germany in order to 
defend Poland. Again, educated soldiers have often 
said that the strongest form of war is that which combines 
the strategical offensive with the tactical defensive : 
thus nation B " gets the jump " on A, occupies some of 
A's territory, entrenches himself therein and defies A 
to put him out. A's attempts to recover his property, 
although defensive in intention, must then become 
offensive in form ; we may compare the attacks made 
by the French and their Allies upon the German trenches 
in France. Even in the purely technical sphere a 
successful defence usually includes counter-attack. 
Anyhow, a weapon is a lifeless body incapable of intending 
anything : to say that a piece of steel is aggressive is 
like saying that sex, liquor, or narcotics are sinful in 
themselves irrespective of their various uses. 

But, said the qualitative disarmers, to strengthen 
the tactical defensive is to make wars less probable, 
for when the defensive predominates conflicts take so 
long to reach a decision that both parties are exhausted 
and no one benefits. No nation, they insisted, will 
attack another merely to injure itself. Earlier in this 
book we have seen that the true cause of war is discontent 
with the previously existing conditions of peace. If 
discontent increases, then the longer it is bottled up 
the fiercer will be the explosion. Historically this is 
exactly what has happened throughout the democratic 
era ; the lie that all men are equal, naturally begetting 
more and more discontent, has produced an appropriate 
crescendo of wars notwithstanding their increasing 
cost. If a war must be declared, clearly it is better 
for all in the long run to get a decision quickly, and this 
is precisely what any weapon which strengthens the 
tactical offensive will help to do. On the contrary, 



184 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

supremacy of the tactical defensive has never meant 
peace but always decision by famine. 

Moreover, the reader can see for himself that the 
tactical balance between offensive and defensive is 
for ever being altered by new inventions. Also that no 
prohibition, for instance of tanks, could possibly be 
enforced. Speaking to this point in the American 
Mercury for September, 1932, in an article called " Tanks," 
the distinguished soldier who signs himself "Arlington 
B. Conway " has imagined the following : 

Scene The Grand Manoeuvres of Bulgo-Slavia in 
1936. A foreign military attach^ is being shown round 
by a Bulgo-Slavian staff officer. 

A group of twelve large caterpillar-tracked vehicles 
suddenly appears from behind a wood, crosses several 
fields at about fifteen miles an hour, and comes to a 
halt in a little valley near the two officers. 

Military Attache : Ah ! Here is something which 
I have not seen before. Do you object . . . ? 

Staff Officer : Oh, those ! They are our new-pattern 
travelling field-kitchens. I don't suppose they would 
really interest you much. 

Military Attach^: I am intensely interested in all 
that pertains to the comfort of the troops. 

Staff Officer (uneasily) : In that case I shall be 
delighted . . . (They approach the machines, and 
the Military Attache examines them narrowly.) 

Military Attach^ : T confess I don't see the fire-place 
or boilers. 

Staff Officer : No, they have not yet been installed. 
The machines have only lately been delivered by 
Schneiders, and the cooking apparatus, which will be 
made in this country, is unfortunately not ready yet. 
Nevertheless, we thought it well to give the vehicles 
a field test. 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 185 

Military Attach^: Of course. The motor seems 
remarkably powerful a hundred and fifty horse-power, 
I should say, at a guess. 

Staff Officer : Ah ! Our atrocious roads 1 A surplus 
of power is needed to negotiate them. 

Military Attach^ : Is there any intention of armouring 
these machines ? Against air bombing, say ? These 
brackets seem well designed for that purpose. 

Staff Officer : Oh, no. You will remember that 
armour on mechanical vehicles is forbidden by the 
Geneva Treaty. I imagine the brackets are intended 
to take canvas flies to shelter the cooks. 

Military Attach^ : Ha, ha ! You will forgive me, 
but I had the ridiculous notion that with a gun or two 
and armour, these cookers would make excellent tanks ! 

Staff Officer : Ha, ha ! You are a droll fellow. 
Tanks, indeed ! But your interest in our poor equipment 
is, I fear, only flattery. Now, I have heard that your 
army possesses cross-country ammunition-carriers of 
the most remarkable character. . . . 

(At this moment a command is given, and with a 
roar of engines and a grinding of gears the mechanical 
cookers disappear over the brow of a hill. The two 
officers are left pulling their moustaches.) 

Had the American and other advocates of qualitative 
disarmament possessed assets with which to strike a 
political bargain, then at least an appearance of success 
might have been achieved. Alas ! their hands were as 
empty as their arguments were shallow. Nobody cared 
how many tanks or big mobile guns the United States 
possessed, everyone knew that the American Tank 
Corps had been financially starved. To the French 
and their Allies, the military masters of Continental 
Europe, the Americans were merely out to decrease the 
relative strength of Germany, whose weakness is to-day 
the chief guarantee of peace, 



186 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Progress being slow, in April Mr. Stinison, the 
American Secretary of State, paid a brief visit to Geneva. 
In sharp contrast to the permanent American delegates, 
who were finding themselves forced to economize, he 
rented a handsomely -furnished villa, including a fine 
collection of armour. Among these trophies of past 
wars, like Caesar he came and saw, and if unlike the 
Roman he did not conquer, at least his failure was 
neither so public nor so humiliating as many others 
in the long list of his diplomatic and political defeats. 
His airs of a Roman emperor were perhaps not so much 
resented by the Europeans as by the American corre- 
spondents, and his departure left the general situation 
unchanged. 

Late in May the American member of the Committee 
on Chemical Warfare very sensibly objected to prohibiting 
tear gas, which is a humane weapon used in police work. 
The rest of the committee, however, agreed with the 
French delegate, who said (a) that no exception could 
be made because it would be easy to convert tear gas 
into poison gas, and (b) that the Conference's decision 
would in no way apply to police work. Thus the 
Conference dragged on into June, France refusing to 
reduce effectives, and England proposing to scrap all 
tanks heavier than twenty-five tons of which she herself 
had few and France many. The Air Commission came 
to the sensible opinion that no particular sort of plane 
could be considered more offensive than any other, 
more dangerous to national defence or more threatening 
to civilians. 

On the day after the French had definitely refused 
to reduce their effectives President Hoover made 
sweeping proposals. The arms of the world were to be 
reduced by nearly one-third. Over and above the so- 
called "police component" figuring on the hundred 
thousand troops allowed to Germany to police her 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 187 

population of sixty-five million, all land effectives were 
to be cut thirty-three per cent.; all tanks, chemical 
warfare, large mobile guns and bombing planes were 
to be abolished ; the previous treaty number and tonnage 
of battleships were to be cut by a third, the treaty tonnage 
of aircraft-carriers, cruisers and destroyers to be cut one- 
quarter, the treaty tonnage of submarines to be cut one- 
third and no nation to have more than thirty-five 
thousand tons of them. Finally, the Kellogg Treaties 
were to be interpreted to mean that the nations of the 
world have agreed to use their arms solely for defence. 
Clearly some of the naval proposals might effect real 
economy ; the other suggestions were mere wind. 

Late in July, having passed through the first two 
stages of all unsuccessful world conferences, the agreement 
in principle and the disagreement in fact, the Genevan 
body reached the third stage of finding a formula to 
disguise failure, to " save the face " of all concerned, and 
to permit the weary delegates temporarily to adjourn. 
The adjournment resolution approved the principle of 
quantitative and also of qualitative disarmament by 
reducing " the means of attack." Not only air attack 
upon civilians was prohibited, but also all bombardment 
from the air was to be abolished; to this end civil 
aircraft were to be "subjected to an international 
regime (except for certain regions where such a regime 
is not suitable)." The principle of limiting the number 
and calibres of heavy land guns was approved without 
attempting to fix what the limitation should be. So 
with tanks, the principle of limiting the tonnage of 
individual tanks was approved without figures. Chemical, 
bacteriological and incendiary warfare were prohibited. 
The principles of limiting effectives, defence budgets 
and the armament industry were approved without a 
single figure or definite agreement. The naval powers 
were invited to go on reducing their fleets, and it was 



188 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

proposed that some machinery its nature not specified 
be set up for supervising the observance of whatever 
agreements might finally be reached and for punishing 
violators. The whole report was as perfect a jelly-fish 
as any international congress ever brought forth. 

Even this semblance of progress did not go on 
unchallenged. The Swiss delegate observed that the 
clause abolishing air bombing did nothing to abolish 
bombing planes. The Chinaman wanted to know how 
the same clause could be made to give real protection 
to the civilians of Manchuria who were daily being 
bombed by the Japanese. The Swede asked why, 
having "abolished" war by the Kellogg Treaties, the 
nations were now offered a resolution to prohibit special 
ways of conducting war. The Italian delegate, having 
flown to Rome to consult Mussolini, returned with a 
statement calling the resolution a " vain effort, entirely 
inadequate to the wishes and hopes of the world." It 
is not enough, said he, to lay down principles when no 
marked progress is made toward attaining their object. 
The Germans and the Bolshevik Russians went farther 
and voted against the resolution : the first because 
nothing had been said about Germany's equal right to 
armament, the latter because they said with some truth 
that the resolution did nothing for disarmament. Italy, 
China and six small powers refused to vote either way. 
The Conference adjourned to meet again in July, 1933, 
with the Germans loudly announcing to the world their 
intention not to return to Geneva but instead to re-arm 
in defiance of the Versailles Treaty. So ended the first 
act of the Genevan farce, with the guns still going in 
Manchuria and a new little war beginning to blaze 
merrily in South America. 

With the later developments at Geneva, the French 
proposals for "militia" armies, the new British draft, 
the truculence of the Germans, etc., I will not weary 



DISARMAMENT, POLICY AND POLITICS 189 

the reader. Suffice it that from the first the Conference 
has made a bad matter worse ; it has shown every 
sign of ending in futility, and (as these, lines are written 
in the summer of 1933) educated opinion everywhere 
seems unanimous in hoping from it nothing more than 
a face-saving treaty of small effect in itself, destined 
everywhere to be nullified by new inventions and 
violated by bootleg armament. 

After the tedious task of chronicling so much hypocrisy 
and unreality a little truth is refreshing. At Williamstown, 
Massachusetts, in August, 1930, Rear-Admiral Hepburn, 
U.S.A., cited two memorable passages. His first 
quotation was from a Dr. William E. Rapport, who 
said in 1925 : " The more I have watched the work inj 
the field of disarmament the more I am convinced that 
disarmament, like a great many other good things,! 
happiness for instance, will never be achieved by those; 
who go out to pursue it. It is a by-product as happiness 
is of effort toward peace and justice." His second 
passage was from Sir Robert Borden : " Without moral 
and spiritual disarmament all practical steps toward 
disarmament are absolutely vain." 

Even more striking is the conversion of Dr. Mary 
E. Woolley, once a female pacifist of the familiar 
American type and one of the American delegation to 
the 1932-1933 Conference. At the 1933 commencement 
at Bryn Mawr College she is reported to have said : 
" I did not realize when I went to Geneva that among 
the many lessons I should learn would be one in religion, 
that the essential factor in a new world relationship, 
as in all other human contacts, is the ' fruit of the spirit/ 
the substitution of good-will for ill-will, of trust for 
distrust, of concord for discord, of friendliness for 
hatred." 

In religion we indeed touch the root of the problem 
of arms. 



CHAPTER XI 

WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 

THE spectacle of the governments of the world fumbling 

and bickering over disarmament suggests the question : 

Will war destroy civilization ? In the fourteen years 

since the Armistice the potential of conflict has fallen 

very little, and even this slight gain is due not to human 

wisdom but to the blind and automatic working of the 

economic limitation. Nowhere could the ruined taxpayer 

support another such performance. People willing to 

buy war bonds would be museum specimens ; if any 

appeared they would deserve to be stuffed and put into 

glass cases along side of the Dodo bird and the Great 

Auk. On the other hand, not a few intelligent people 

believe that the peoples of the world if only they 

could find the necessary food and clothes during the 

process would again march off cheering as they did 

in 1914. In other words, it is doubtful whether the 

essential, that is the moral, limitation has kept pace 

with the economic limitation. Far from being able 

to prevent future wars, Europe cannot even put an 

end to the last one ; the Franco-German clash is as 

definite as ever, the only difference is that for the moment 

it is waged with intrigue and gold instead of bayonets 

and high explosives. Our civilization is like a man 

who has only just survived a serious illness. Another 

attack may follow and, even though milder than the 

last, might carry off the weakened patient. 

Nor is the case-history of the disease reassuring : 
in earlier chapters we saw that before our own hundred 

190 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION ? IQ3 

and fifty years of democracy and mass massacre there 
was indeed a slightly longer period of limited war in the 
age of Louis XIV and the eighteenth century, bul 
before that again we come upon another century and 
a half darkened by the unlimited Wars of Religion, 
Thus, throughout the modern period the centuries oJ 
" absolute " war outnumber those of strictly limited 
war by nearly two to one, and we must return to the 
Middle Ages and the Roman Empire for a limitation 
lasting more than a century and a half. 

Is the problem then insoluble ? The present writer 
does not believe so. If the question be permanently 
human, moral and spiritual in essence, then since 
our specifically modern evils have not always existed, 
they need not always exist. Over the last two thousand 
years, if the men of the Eighteenth Century, the Middle 
Ages and the Roman Empire were as human as ourselves, 
then with nearly seventeen centuries of limited against 
three of anything like " absolute " war, surely the former 
rather than the latter is normal to man. If limited war 
be artificial, as the nineteenth-century theorists claimed, 
then once more, were the distressed populations of 
1918 artificial for not exterminating their conquered 
enemies, or resorting to cannibalism or boiling down 
their prisoners for fats ? The present writer is not 
convinced that four centuries of Protestantism, together 
with a century and a half of democracy and universal 
education, have so destroyed the collective intelligence 
and goodwill of Christendom that nothing can be done 
to cure our diseases, including that of insufficiently 
limited war. What man has done man can do. 

Correct diagnosis must always be the first step towards 
cure. In the first place, can we be sure that the democratic 
all-men-are-equal idea is guilty of the unlimited wars 
of the last century and a half ? Democrats, of course, 
prefer to place the responsibility anywhere except upon 



192 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

themselves and their pet theory : the wicked non- 
democratic states, they say, attacked the little white 
woolly lambs of democracy. In this or that case they 
may have been right, in general the evidence is dead 
against them. 

Napoleon was frank enough when he said at St. 
Helena : " If we fought all over the continent it was 
because two societies stood face to face : that which 
dates from 1789 and the old regime ; they could not 
live together, and the younger devoured the other." He, 
the Soldier of the Revolution, not only admitted but 
gloried in its guilt. 

Experience, however, has so far disproved the rest 
of the passage just quoted : " War will become an 
anachronism . . . the present is only a painful 
transition. The future will be one of intelligence, industry, 
peace ; the past was brute force, privileges, and 
ignorance. ... A day will come when victories will 
be won without cannon and without bayonets." On 
the contrary, the democratic era, drunk with romantic- 
naturalist passions, has waded deeper and deeper in 

blood. 

* * * * * 

Turning now to the inter-action of popular passion 
and imperfectly limited war upon the social order, that 
the French Revolution convulsed French society is 
well known ; with the regular army disorganized in 
the chaos, the universal service with which democratic 
France outnumbered and beat back the professional 
soldiers of the kings was her only resource. Professor 
Ferrero has "recently shown that it was a corresponding 
social chaos appearing in Italy in the wake of the French 
armies which forbade the Republic to rest content 
with the comparatively modest desire for the " natural 
frontiers " of Gaul, the Alps and the Rhine, and forced 
the establishment of the democratic Italian puppet 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION ? IQ3 

states of France, which in turn led to the French Empire. 
In the Illustrated London News of i6th January, 1932, 
Ferrero says : " In 1796 and 1797,. in the whole of the 
Italian states two parties were formed, vehement and 
active minorities, a democratic party favourable to the 
ideas of the Revolution and France, and an ultra- 
Conservative party which supported the ancient regime 
Church, absolute monarchy, the aristocratic regime 
to the last gasp. These two parties were not slow in 
insulting each other, arms in hand ; while the Govern- 
ments, enfeebled and discredited by the invasion, stood 
passively by in a manner which reminded one of the 
Ministers Giolitti and Facta in the midst of the factions 
let loose by the War in 1920 and 1921. When Bonaparte 
returned from Leoben, he found Northern and Central 
Italy in flames ; the two parties massacred each other 
before the eyes of impotent authority and the inert 
majority ; the revolutionaries attempted to overthrow 
the old regime ; the other party defended it by 
substituting itself for the Government and by massacring 
the French when they were the stronger. 

" It was a struggle to the death which was beginning 
between two minorities. ... It seems ... to 
explain the whole Italian policy of Napoleon and the 
Directorate. Neither Bonaparte nor the Directorate 
wished for these disturbances ; both well understood 
that they were a great danger for France ; but they 
could not stop them, although they tried ; and at last 
Bonaparte was obliged to intervene to prevent a complete 
:ollapse of the old Legality, which would have confronted 
the small French army with chaos, inflamed by the 
nost violent anti-revolutionary hatreds. That was why 
le organized the Cisalpine Republic so precipitately 
m his return to Italy in 1797, the fatal act which caused 
:he Revolution to be caught up in the Italian tangle." 

Even supposing that Bonaparte's army in the Austrian 



194 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Alps could have been safely withdrawn across Italy to 
France, such a retreat would have meant not only the 
abandonment of the war against Austria on the Italian 
sector where the French had been so brilliantly victorious, 
but also the massacre of the Italian democrats by 
the counter-revolutionaries, and the encouragement of 
royalism everywhere. Accordingly France preferred 
to go down the road which was to lead to Moscow and 
Waterloo. Already after her earliest victories her 
annexation of Belgium had loaded upon her a lasting 
quarrel with England ; on top of this, Napoleon's inability 
to reconcile any of the great continental powers nullified 
all his triumphs. 

Nor can any instructed man deny the connection 
between democracy and the superheated nineteenth - 
century nationalisms. Certainly since 1793 patriotism 
has been the chief religion of modern men. National 
patriotism was already apparent in Joan of Arc's time ; 
in the last four centuries it has grown so that to-day 
people bridle up at the mildest effort to enforce religious 
authority and yet take the heaviest sacrifices for granted 
when commanded by a national government. It is 
true that the democratic ideal of the French Revolution 
was international in theory and roused prompt echoes, 
not only in Italy but also along the Rhine. Indeed, the 
Revolutionary-Napoleonic destruction of outworn and 
obstructive feudal privileges and the dream of a great, 
reasonable modern state were never narrowly local 
in their appeal ; "the wide enthusiasm for the promise 
of a new Europe was reflected in the furious valour of 
Napoleon's Italian and Swiss contingents as late as 1812. 
Nevertheless, the French conquests raised French 
nationalism to a hitherto unheard-of height and also, 
by reaction, fanned opposing nationalisms into a blaze ; 
the aristocracies and kings of Europe were glad enough 
to appeal to local feeling as well as to every traditional 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 195 

sentiment which might strengthen resistance to the 
Gallic crusade. Much of the zeal for freeing the oppressed, 
beginning as an inter-class affair- inspired largely by 
mercantile envy against the nobles, was easily shifted 
into desire for the freedom of oppressed nationalities ; 
Napoleon helped Poland, and the cannon of Waterloo 
had hardly fallen silent before the first scattering shots of 
the war for Greek independence rang out. More or 
less democratic nationalism ran red through the 
nineteenth-century wars, swelled to a torrent of blood 
in 1914-1918, and inspired the peacemakers of 1919 
to invent new nations never before dreamed of. 

The military history of the nineteenth century seems 
made on purpose to discomfit Democrats. The reaction 
after 1815, the Holy Alliance and the restoration of 
the legitimate monarchies, may or may not have 
deserved the sneers . of democratic historians, but the 
most biased must admit that the period was an all too 
brief interval of peace. If Europe was exhausted, at 
least the restored kings were too wise to trouble her 
repose with great wars. On the contrary, the next step 
in democratic progress, the insurrections of 1848, were 
the prelude to a new flood-tide of blood in the American 
Civil War, together with the Italian and Prussian wars 
from 1848 to 1871. 

Our own time has seen the wheel come full circle. 
In 1793 the social chaos of revolutionary France produced 
a new technical form, the universal-service mass army. 
Between 1914 and 1918 universal service in its turn 
begat social chaos in Russia and the threat of it 
elsewhere. 

We saw in Chapter VII ("Democracy and Mass 
Massacre") that after Waterloo France returned to a 
professional army recruited by volunteering; while 
Prussia alone went on with conscription, thus con- 
tinuing in military technique the democratic preference 



196 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

for quantity over quality, at the same time using her 
army as a vehicle for the typically democratic device 
of universal education. 

The object of conscription was to raise enormous 
armies. Now the clumsiness of an enormous army had 
always been known ; in 1812 it had robbed Napoleon 
of decisive victory near the Russian frontiers, and so 
set the stage for his fatal error of marching on Moscow. 
When in 1914, for the first time in history, two great 
conscript masses were opposed, each was like the 
giant dinosaur whose bones fill a great hall in a museum, 
although his brain was only the size of an egg. Chapter 
VIII (" Napoleon and Twentieth-Century Disarmament ") 
has shown how each mass was equipped with firearms 
whose great power made the defensive far stronger than 
the offensive. In the event, no positive military decision 
was reached for over four years. 

But when the defensive predominates famine 
approaches, and people dislike going hungry. Moreover, 
they dislike harsh discipline suddenly imposed on them, 
not to speak of the effort required of a whole population 
when a conscript army is to be kept in the field. War 
being under any circumstances desperately uncomfortable 
and horribly dangerous, to persuade such millions to 
endurance it was necessary to fanaticize them, for they 
have neither the discipline, the esprit de corps, nor the 
professional honour of regular troops. Now no exalted 
mood or severe strain can long continue without collapse. 
The first signs of general breakdown appeared in 1917. 
In that year, after the failure of Nivelle's April 
offensive, a number of French units mutinied, threatening 
wholesale disorganization. The difficult corner was 
turned, thanks chiefly to two men, Petain and Clemenceau, 
The former, made Commander-in-Chief , realized that the 
neo-Napoleonic fanaticism of the offensive was at fault ; 
by contenting himself with a defensive until the Americans 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 197 

should come, he was just able to hold the army together. 
Meanwhile, the British took the German pressure off 
the French front by sacrificing themselves in the mud 
of Passchendael. Clemenceau reorganized the French 
Government, checking the doubtful not to say traitorous 
activities of not a few important politicians of the 
left-wing parties. 

In Russia the corner was not turned, and not only 
the national military effort but the entire social order 
broke down. The enormous tragedy has been set down 
with soldierly sobriety in General Golo vine's admirably 
documented book, The Russian Army in the World War. 
Russia, with her immense population, was thought an 
invincible colossus ; in fact, her man power was 
proportionately less than that of the western nations 
because of her great number of young children ; and her 
primitive economic life necessitated holding out of 
military service a larger proportion of men than elsewhere. 
Her conscription law was imperfect, granting so many 
and such unreasonable exemptions that the moral 
obligation of universal service had not sunk into the 
popular mind. Again, she was even farther than the 
other conscript nations from estimating the immense 
need of twentieth-century war for artillery and munitions. 
Finally, she was handicapped by her ill-developed 
industries, her scanty railroad lines, and her lack of 
ice-free ports. 

Notwithstanding all this, her armies sacrificed 
themselves again and again for their Allies, in the summer 
and again in the fall of 1914 to help France, in 1916 
to help both France and Italy. In 1914 and 1915, 
however, the ill-equipped Russians had had over three 
million killed and wounded in addition to nearly two 
million prisoners, a total of nearly five million. Moreover, 
they had been compelled in 1915 to fall back over three 
hundred miles, with all the discouragement and sense 



198 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

of failure that such a movement implies. At the same 
time the entire social order was weakening under the 
strain. Albert Thomas, a French Labour politician, 
and therefore not at all predisposed to sympathy with 
the old Russia, Orthodoxy, the Tsardom, etc., visited 
the country, and while discussing the defects of the 
supply system with a Russian statesman said appre- 
ciatively : " What does Russia need ? She needs 
authority in her Government. For, if I may say so, 
in the grave times through which we are living 
Russia must be very strong morally to withstand the 
mild state of anarchy which reigns in your country 
and strikes a foreigner." Nevertheless, during 1916 
there were new Russian offensives, over two million 
more casualties and nearly three hundred and fifty 
thousand prisoners, a total of nearly two million and a 
half for the year and well over seven million for the 
war. Toward the end of 1916 it is not surprising that 
the Special Council for National Defence submitted a 
memorandum to the Emperor, showing that the current 
rate of losses could not much longer be endured, and 
that some means must be found of lessening them. 
The principle chimed with a well-known saying of Tsar 
Peter the Great who, like any eighteenth-century ruler 
or any sensible man, for that matter had demanded 
that his generals win victories without great bloodshed. 
But since it clashed with the neo-Napoleonic worship 
of the offensive regardless of cost, the commanders of 
the various Russian fronts objected strenuously. General 
Brusilov, commanding the group of armies of the south- 
western front, replied : " The desire ... for a greater 
husbanding of the human element in battle, coupled 
with the demand that we wait patiently for the increase 
of the technical equipment needed for dealing the enemy 
a final blow, can least of all be understood by m?. An 
offensive without casualties may be staged only during 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 199 

manoeuvres. . . . " General Ruzsky, commanding 
the northern group of armies, is said by General Golovine 
to have replied that "war meant victims, and that 
pressure on leaders to reduce losses might result in 
deadening their initiative and dash. ..." In the 
spring of 1917, after the first revolution, the Russian 
soldiers took matters into their own hands ; in increasing 
numbers they refused to fight and began to go home. 
But still the Russian generals continued to order 
offensives. In that year the revolution made it 
impossible to move before June, by which time the 
French and British attacks in the west had died down, 
so that the Russian effort must be an isolated one ; 
still they persisted. Even long afterwards General 
Denikin, then Chief of Staff, justified the decision, 
saying : " There could be no doubt whatever that had 
the army remained passive, its loss of the fighting 
instinct would have ended in its going completely to 
pieces. On the other hand, an offensive followed by 
success might have restored its morale." On which 
Golovine comments : " That is, all hopes of saving the 
army were based upon some final victory which would 
bring peace. But in 1917 the war was still in that stage 
when the only strategy possible lay in attrition, and 
not in any smashing Napoleonic blows. And because 
of its inferior armament, not only could the Russian 
army not count upon a decisive victory, but even an 
important success was unlikely. ' Risk was necessary 
. . . ' General Denikin writes. But risk may be either 
reasonable or absurd ; and here it would have been 
the latter." 

By this time most of the Russian infantry would 
no longer advance, and were making it hot for such of 
their comrades as were still prepared to do their duty. 
Accordingly, the few well-disposed men were separated 
from the others and formed into special " shock 



200 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

battalions." These last reserves of Russian patriotism 
might have been used in two ways : together with the 
Cossacks and with the cavalry and artillery (most of 
which branches, not having been repeatedly pounded 
to a bloody pulp like the infantry, had kept their 
discipline) the infantry shock units might have helped 
restore order both in the army and throughout the 
country. In the Russian armies on the Rumanian front 
(where Golovine was Chief of Staff) and in at least one 
instance on the south-western front they were so used 
with good results, promptly putting down all mutinies. 
Elsewhere they were uselessly sacrificed to the Moloch 
of the " offensive spirit," and with them perished the 
hope of saving Russia from anarchy and Bolshevism. 
Thus three years of " unlimited " conscript war broke 
down the Russian social order into a chaos as deep as 
that of France in 1793, out of which conscription and 
unlimited war had come. 

The wonder is not that Russia collapsed in 1917 ; 
it is that she held out so long, while the central and 
western European nations, among whom democratic ideas, 
parliamentarism, universal education, etc., were more 
developed, were able to go on for another year. Those 
who proclaim the peacefulness of democracies can take 
little comfort from the fact that it was Russia, politically 
the least democratic of the powers, which fostered the 
one strong, spontaneous and successful peace movement 
previous to the Armistice of 1918. Nor will those who 
praise the wisdom and efficacy of spontaneous mass 
movements be encouraged to note that the anarchy 
and mutinies of 1917 brought Russia no peace but 
three years of civil war at least as cruel as any in history, 
ending only in a new despotism. 

On the other hand, all governments, no matter how 
authoritative, and all philosophies, whether brutalizing 
or enlightening to the intelligence, have a limit to the 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 201 

obedience which they can command. By the autumn 
of 1918 the remaining European belligerents were all 
feeling the strain. Lloyd George and Haig judged the 
condition of England to be so serious that they were 
prepared to content themselves with far softer Armistice 
terms than those actually imposed ; they were not even 
in favour of an Allied occupation of the left bank of 
the Rhine. Foch himself, notwithstanding his Catholic 
appreciation of the importance of ritual, would not 
join Pershing in favour of unconditional surrender and 
a triumphal entry into Berlin ; and this at a time when 
the German army was on its last legs, with Allied 
Intelligence Departments calculating that there could 
not be more than two German divisions sufficiently 
rested to counter-attack, and even those two divisions 
had probably been broken up long since. Moreover, 
the German fleet and the rear of the army were mutinying, 
the Emperor had fled, and grave social disturbances 
had begun, so that the advancing Allied troops might 
have been welcomed as restorers of order. On the 
world-wide after-effects of the war it is not necessary 
to insist ; they are all too obvious. 

Thus, contemplating the prolonged, destructive, and 
insufficiently decisive struggle of 1914-1918, we are 
strengthened in our belief that military technique, 
although secondary to moral and political forms, has 
an independent life of its own. It is like a child which 
when full grown can act independently of its parent, 
or like a secondary infection which may spread more 
widely than the original germ. For the moment, 
however, let us turn back from technical questions to 
the primary moral question. 



Having noted the blood-thirstiness of our own 
democratic era, let us ask what that era has in common 



202 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

with the other periods of unlimited war, that of the 
sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Religious Wars, 
or that of the Greek city states and the Roman Republic. 
Conversely, let us see whether the three periods of limited 
war, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages and the 
Eighteenth Century, resemble each other in anything. 
The formula : " Moral disunion produces discontent, 
discontent equals potential war ; therefore the degree 
of moral disunion within any society will equal the 
potential of war within that society/' fits the case 
exactly. Each of the societies which have been successful 
in strictly limiting war had achieved a considerable 
measure of religious and therefore of moral agreement. 
In the Roman Empire it was the cult of the Divine 
Emperor together with humanist reverence for the 
high ethics of the Civil Law ; in the Middle Ages it was 
the Catholic Faith ; in the Eighteenth Century it was 
a restricted but real humanist worship of measure and 
decorum founded on the classic culture then universal 
among educated men. Moral unity once achieved, 
appropriate technical limitations came about of 
themselves. Conversely the societies which have 
suffered from imperfectly limited war have been those 
which proved unable to unify or reconcile clashing 
religions and moralities. So the quarrelling city-states 
of the ancient world had too low a moral common 
denominator ; so sixteenth-century society was shaken 
to its foundations by the quarrel between Reformers 
and Roman Catholics. Just so every ideal of our 
democratic era has been and is divisive. 

Political democracy with its creed of liberty, equality, 
fraternity, has never been a unifying force ; often it 
has not even proved itself a tolerable form of government. 
In small communities untroubled by racial or religious 
diversity, for instance in the Swiss cantons or the self- 
contained villages of early America, it may do. 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 203 

Everywhere else it has been a fertile mother of strife 
because its politicians are always yielding to the 
temptation of getting into office 'by exciting those 
popular passions which romantic-naturalist philosophy 
has always exalted above the troublesome business of 
thinking. But to excite popular passion, instead of 
healing the divisions inevitable in any complex society, 
exasperates those divisions. Moreover, under democracy 
every change of Government takes the form of an 
election, therefore of a contest a potential civil war. 
Those elected almost always represent not the community 
but a particular party within that community. If 
mere numbers are to govern, then there is no moral 
authority to check oppression of the minority by the 
majority. If, on the other hand, elections become mere 
sham-battles with little at stake, the next stage is that 
of public indifference and the seizure of power by 
organized minorities. Moreover, the constant tendency 
of elected politicians is to centralize power and increase 
the dependence of citizens upon the Government ; the 
more jobs and favours they can give the more votes 
they can buy. But the more the citizens habitually 
depend upon Government the less they can resist it, 
for instance if it orders them into a war. 

Meanwhile, the democratic philosophy is continually 
dividing men by enraging them through its permanent 
conflict with fact. In order to exalt the common man 
with his abundance of instinctive emotion and his 
incapacity for thought, the romantic-naturalists have 
had to say that the poor creature was essentially good, 
if not perfect then certainly capable of becoming so if 
" given a chance " by the change of this or that existing 
social arrangement. In other words, they have been 
forced into a hopelessly inadequate definition of evil, a 
definition which cannot be made to cover the facts of 
human behaviour. Alas ! all real saints and sages, 



204 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

precisely in order to love mankind, have had to take 
just the opposite line and say that the human heart 
is deceitful and desperately wicked. Then, and then 
only, can one take a charitable view of the things real 
men and women keep on doing the whole time. If, 
on the contrary, you say like Robespierre that people 
are perfect or nearly so, then when you see the way 
they really act, your only logical course is to massacre 
them in heaps as he did. But to do that is not 
necessarily the way to persuade a community to live 
in unity and concord. 

Further, the idea of equality, the keystone of the 
democratic arch, is perpetually at war with its two 
supports of liberty and fraternity. Both of the latter 
are obviously good ; fraternity is a chief source of human 
happiness, and few men, when free to choose, will not 
choose liberty. But equality is a horse of a very different 
colour. Among men of the Christian culture it can 
indeed be defended mystically, as Jefferson defended 
it when he said that "all men are endowed by their 
creator with equal rights," which mystical idea can in 
part be rationalized by saying with Belloc that " what 
is common to all men is . . infinitely more important 
than the accidents by which men differ." In the sense 
of moral equality we may not only admit but insist that 
something of it is indispensable to man and a high 
degree of it to men in the Christian religion, who are 
shocked, for instance, by the Hindu caste system. But 
neither Christianity nor Islam nor any other egalitarian 
religion has ever taught an absolute moral equality. 
They have said that God would judge men with an equal 
justice, not that they would receive equal rewards. 
They have proclaimed the alternative between salvation 
and damnation. For what the point is worth, those of 
the poets who have imagined the hereafter have shown 
great ingenuity in inventing gradations among both 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 205 

the saved and the damned. The attempt to turn this 
qualified moral equality into political equality can be 
made only by denying liberty and outraging fraternity ; 
if men are left free they promptly begin accentuating 
their inequalities, if they are really fraternal they care 
little for the mirage of political equality. Since society 
can exist only by discipline and subordination, the 
levelling tendency of democracy is always working against 
the grain. 

How then might we break into the vicious circle of 
democratic social passions, chaos leading to universal 
service, vehement nationalism deliberately organizing 
the military technique which had been the natural 
expression of social upheaval, then an increased 
dose of universal service leading back to social chaos 
again ? 

He would be a rash man who would look to the 
chief new moral and political development, Communism, 
for unity or peace. It is indeed an international ideal 
for which men have proved willing to kill and be killed, 
a new religion capable here and there of inspiring flaming 
faith, but a materialist religion envious of superior talent 
and fortune, hostile to normal human things, from God 
and permanent marriage down to property. Moreover, 
in spite of its dictatorship, it is a part of the democratic 
movement, merely shifting the mystic " All men are 
(or should be) equal " idea from politics to economics. 

There remains the tendency toward federation 
represented by the League of Nations. Trade and 
finance are, indeed, internationalizing themselves. In 
a little known but brilliant essay called The Natural 
History of War, so keen a mind as General J. F. C. 
Fuller, whom the British Service calls " Boney " Fuller, 
to liken his intelligence to that of the Corsican, has 
suggested an "Economic Papacy" of great capitalists 
to iron out national rivalries. The difficulty here is 



206 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

moral ; no true federation of international capitalism 
seems likely because big business men are not generally 
loved. More often they are detested. Blind hatred 
of them is a chief source of Communism. How can men 
be loyal to superiors who are neither Princes, Lords, 
nor Fathers, but only bags of money ? The gentlemen 
of old time had at least a cult of honour and courage ; 
not a few men died for them gladly ; the new masters 
represent nothing but successful acquisitiveness. 

Admitting this, General Fuller thinks that an 
" Economic Papacy " might stabilize society long enough 
to allow a moral rally to come from within. He reasons 
that the moral aspiration of man to unify his individual 
and social life is as much part of him as yeast is of bread ; 
but if when yeast has been put into a lump of dough 
the dough is always being pulled to pieces, no good loaf 
will result. 

The present writer suspects that such argument 
puts the cart before the horse, that no social stability 
will come except that which has a real moral nucleus 
around which to gather. While it is true that the war 
weariness of to-day is not altogether unlike that which 
followed the great Roman foreign and civil wars and led 
to Augustus's pacification, yet in 29 B.C. you at least 
had Rome as a centre. Roman gentlemen like Horace 
and Vergil, although they must have smiled privately 
at the idea of Augustus being a god, were anything but 
cynical as to the peace-giving mission of their city, the 
Roman sword guarding the humble and warring down 
the proud. Again, had Napoleonic Europe been given 
time to settle down, it had a strong nucleus in France. 
To-day, however, there is no centre, and instead we have 
nationalisms as much stronger than those of Napoleon's 
time as these were stronger than the dust of fatigued 
city patriotisms with which Augustus had to deal. Be 
they never so eager to serve international finance, 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 20/ 

contemporary politicians must reckon with the fact 
that the nation remains the moral unit of mankind. 

Moreover, men rightly hesitate to attack nationalism, 
for although it may hinder us from peaceably dealing 
with foreigners, it remains the chief moral bond of union 
within each nation. We instinctively feel that the 
average internationalist must be something of a scoundrel. 
Morally, nationalism remains so strong that, even in 
the present phase of exhaustion, the world's chief 
nationalist quarrel, that between France and Germany, 
seems likely to come to a head. 

Turning from political creeds like democracy and 
nationalism to religion, historically the chief unifying 
force among men, to-day religion is not even at unity 
within itself. Christianity with its universal message 
survives, but Christians are divided into three main 
groups of Eastern-Orthodox, Roman Catholic and 
Protestant, and each of these three is subdivided : 
Orthodoxy on national lines, the Roman Catholic 
societies into clericals and anti-clericals who range from 
believers to militant atheists, and Protestantism into 
innumerable sects. It is therefore no wonder that since 
1648 the Faith has not been our main motive for political 
action. Nor is it surprising that Protestant pacifism 
suffers from a distressing vagueness. Its leaders seem 
unwilling or unable to discuss the distinction between 
just and unjust killing. And yet their preachers 
constantly cry for more of the coercive power of govern- 
ment whenever they can incorporate one of their taboos 
into a statute. In so far as their pacifism rightly detests 
the current heresy of the morally omnipotent state whose 
citizens must not question its acts, most thoughtful 
men are with them. But they seem to get no farther 
than the " slacker oath," whereas present conditions 
in America compel us to ask how much peace the 
community will have left if its citizens do not soon rise 



208 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

in arms against their criminal enemies ? Peace must 
be a peace of order. 

Summing up, then, we find democracy and vehement 
democratic nationalism still strong ; the extension of 
the all-men-are-equal into the economic field through 
Socialism and Communism seems likely to be fruitful 
in new strife ; capitalist federation is handicapped by 
the insufficient loyalty inspired by the big business man ; 
and religion is itself divided. These are the difficulties 
which we of Christendom can conquer because we must. 
Sooner or later either we or a remnant of our remote 
descendants will reduce the scale of our indulgence in 
battle, murder and sudden death to the accompaniment 
of plague, pestilence and famine ; the alternative is 
collective suicide on a scale unthinkable even to the 
wickedest or stupidest human beings. The question is, 
how much more experience of imperfectly limited war 
will be needed ? If a strict limitation be too long 
postponed, there will be an abrupt and painful descent 
of our high civilization into a new Dark Age. 

For the comfort of those discouraged by such a 
possibility, we may make a parable of a story told by 
Jack London somewhat as follows : There was a beautiful 
green island in the Pacific, full of birds and possessing 
a good harbour with a fine spring of clear water nearby, 
so that whaling-ships made a practice of anchoring there 
to fill their water-casks. One ship's tabby cat, having 
produced a surplus of kittens which the crew were 
unwilling to kill, the little beasts were marooned there. 
Thereafter the reports of those who visited the place, 
pieced together, made an amazing tale : the birds were 
so abundant and so tame that at first the race of cats 
increased prodigiously, hunting was so easy that the 
pampered beasts could put most of their energy into 
propagating their kind. Presently their numbers became 
so great that in time all the available birds had been 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 20g 

eaten. Then began a civil war among the cats ; especially 
they ate each other's kittens whenever they could, until 
the communiques of visitors pointed towards an 
approaching extinction of the species. 'But and here 
comes the point of the story this did not happen. 
Apparently the cats held a council and said : " If we 
don't stop eating each other's kittens the noble race of 
cats will presently disappear from this island. Something 
must be done." At all events the next whalers who 
landed found that the practice of kitten-eating had 
ceased ; instead the cats were getting their living by 
fishing in the shallow tidal pools along the shore. This 
occupation being both ill-paid and fatiguing (here I 
leave Jack London, but the detail belongs in the story 
none the less), the beasts had not the same leisure and 
energy for making love. Accordingly the cat population 
of the island stabilized, and comparative although of 
course not absolute peace reigned. 

How then might we imitate the island cats ? Whether 
human births should be deliberately limited as the cat 
story suggests, and if so by what methods, we shall not 
here discuss ; let it suffice that the world could support 
a far greater population than at present. Morally, our 
goal is a greater measure of unity. Technically, we 
might look for new military developments likely to 
weaken the means recently used for imperfectly limited 
war. Later in this book it will be shown how the plane 
and the tank will destroy the technique used hitherto 
in the mass massacres of the democratic era. Further, 
it will be shown how the present effort to reunite 
Christendom, should it succeed, will heal those unhappy 
divisions of which our mass massacres are the natural 
fruit. 

Most moral and military changes, however, are 
gradual. Is there, then, any contemporary social and 
political force which weakens democracy, prolongs the 



210 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

present insecure peace of exhaustion, and gives time to 
work out a technique of limited war and to advance 
towards a reunited Church ? Such a force is the tendency 
toward an armed 61ite found in Communism and Fascism. 
In America, too, should public order continue to decline 
and violent crime to increase, another sort of armed 
61ite would doubtless appear ; the wealth which attracts 
the criminal gives its possessors the power to arm in 
return, indeed in the United States there are constantly 
increasing numbers of armed men on private pay. But 
since it is not certain whether our domestic insecurity 
will necessitate so drastic a remedy, for the moment we 
may confine ourselves to Russia and Italy. 

Obviously the matter requires careful statement ; 
in so far as Communism is militantly international and 
Fascism militantly nationalist, their influence is anything 
but sedative. They promise peace only because to 
the scandal of democrats both Fascist Italy and 
Communist Russia have already gone a long way 
toward setting up their dominant parties as armed 
aristocracies. If an armed aristocracy can win a real 
consent to its rule by the mass of its subjects, there 
seems no reason why it should not prove an enduring 
form of government. All the new political theories 
imply a controlling body ; the fact is admitted even by 
radicals to whom the rags of democracy still cling. So 
thorough a hater of traditional gentility as H. G. Wells 
took the armed gentlemen of Japan as the starting-point 
of his Proposals for Establishing an Order of Samurai ; 
had he confined himself to his own country he could 
have found Orders of Knighthood without the heathen 
Japanese cult of suicide. After all, the old knights, 
lords and kings of Europe were not reverenced for the 
fun of it, although loyalty is a large part of happiness ; 
they were valued for the work they did, in the modern 
jargon for their " social utility." Louis XIV, who stage- 



WILL WAR DESTROY CIVILIZATION? 211 

managed kingship so effectively, had no illusions as 
to the source of its power; having in his youth seen 
insurrection and civil war, in his will he took pains to 
remind his heir that "man, being naturally suspicious 
and proud, will never consent to be governed by another 
man until his own need shows him the necessity." 

Now the service which the masses receive from any 
governing group is that they are left freer for their own 
private affairs ; the implied contract by which they 
consent to be governed by the group is that the latter 
shall permit them to attend to business and seek their 
pleasure. To conscript or otherwise inconvenience 
the masses for an avoidable war is a breach of this 
unspoken contract. Meanwhile, on its side the governing 
group has strong reasons for avoiding a general 
mobilization. We have seen that the Russian Communists 
and the Italian Fascisti owe a part of their power within 
their respective countries to the fact that they are 
armed, whereas their possible opponents are not : a 
general mobilization, by arming those opponents, would 
diminish the armed superiority of each dominant group. 
Therefore, although both Italy and Russia have retained 
conscription to meet the chance of wars with other 
countries, neither Mussolini nor Stalin is eager to mobilize 
their conscripts. Conscript nations like the Poles and 
Yugo-Slavs could mobilize if they liked, provided they 
could find the money ; the French could certainly do 
so, although France obviously desires peace. But who 
believes that the German factory populations of to-day 
would carry on with sufficient cheerfulness through 
another universal-service war ? What military benefit 
would a general mobilization give either to Japan or 
to any power at war with that remote country ? 

These questions lead to others not so easy to answer : 
after the present pause of exhaustion will democracy 
and nationalism ebb ? Or will whole peoples again 



212 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

march off cheering ? That is to say, will mass massacre 
begin again, and if so how soon ? We do not know. 
It depends on how the world uses whatever time may 
remain before the next war. 

Meanwhile, we do know that every country and 
especially every province in Christendom can help 
towards a general and strict limitation of war only 
in so far as its own circumstances permit. 



PART IV 
CONCLUSION 



CHAPTER XII 

TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 

THOUGHTFUL readers will justly despise the materialist 
nonsense of those who say that the new matiriel must 
make wars even more savage and destructive than 
1914-1918. A piece of steel, or any other material 
object, knows neither sin nor virtue, and may be put 
either to good or bad uses. Thus, contrary to vulgar 
error, no military instrument can prevent or accomplish 
the strict limitation of war. 

If, on the other hand, we reinforce sound logic with 
recent history, we shall see that the new mat&riel will 
make for limited war by destroying the military value 
of the instruments with which the imperfectly limited 
wars of the democratic era have been waged. Modified 
military technique, by breaking up the nineteenth- 
century form, will bring in a new form which need not 
be morally worse and may be much better than that 
of the recent past. 

The essence of imperfectly limited war is popular 
passion inspiring attempts to overthrow completely 
another human group. Secondarily, wars waged on the 
scale and with the intensity necessary to accomplish 
this end rouse passions where these did not exist before. 

The typical instrument of the terrible democratic 
wars has been the unarmoured infantryman equipped 
with musket or rifle and bayonet. For centuries such 
equipment has been relatively cheap ; to-day the U.S. 
service rifle, although a beautiful, breach-loading, 
magazine weapon, capable of accurate shooting farther 

215 



2l6 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

than the unaided eye can follow, costs only $45.00. 
Throughout the nineteenth century this cheapness, 
combined with economic activity, international trade, 
the credit system, and with the willingness of the peoples 
to serve and to pay heavy taxes, made possible the 
raising of huge armies capable of putting severe military 
pressure upon hostile peoples whose defending armies 
had been defeated. Besides being cheap, the infantry 
equipment further favoured large armies, in that it was 
comparatively simple and easy to use without long 
training. Under a heavy strain, like that of France 
in 1814, Napoleon did have trouble in arming his troops, 
but this difficulty was far less than that of finding men, 
and in general neo-Napoleonic military thought took 
weapon power for granted and considered war chiefly 
in terms of mass man-power. 

Of course, the high-powered late nineteenth-century 
infantry rifle, like the eighteenth-century musket, might 
have lent itself to specialized training. Take, for instance, 
the first shock between the German conscripts and the 
United States Marines at Chateau Thierry : whereas 
the Germans were bad shots even at short ranges, the 
Marines were highly trained in musketry, and apparently 
when they opened at a thousand yards the Germans 
were completely bewildered with most fortunate results 
upon the morale of the whole A. E. F. But usually, 
as in other departments of civilization, military quantity 
dominated quality. 

As compared with population, the mere size of the 
armies made it possible to hold down defeated states 
because a victor could occupy vast territories. Between 
first-class powers the little eighteenth-century armies 
rarely entered a hostile capital, the two short occupations 
of Berlin during the Seven Years' War seem the only 
exceptions; but Napoleon took every capital of the 
continent from Moscow to Madrid, and as his power 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 217 

ebbed the Allies twice garrisoned Paris. In 1871 the 
Prussians occupied not only Paris but a third of all 
France. Again, between 1914 and 1918 the German 
occupation of Allied territories was of great effect, and 
in general the moral and economic advantages of 
occupying large territories are enormous. 

It is true that the growth of overseas trade has made 
naval blockade very formidable : the blockade of the 
Southern Confederacy in 1861-1865 and that of Germany 
in 1914-1918 were more effective than any previous 
blockades of whole countries. But in neither case was 
blockade alone decisive ; the Confederate armies of 1865 
were at their last gasp, the German troops toward the 
end of 1918 were almost as badly off, and the German 
Government dared not face the invasion and occupation 
staring them in the face. 

For more than a century wholesale occupation, or the 
threat of it, has been the goal of military effort and 
the chief means of persuading a hostile and determined 
people to surrender. 

Meanwhile, unsuspected by the neo - Napoleonic 
generals, the increasing effectiveness, complexity, and 
cost of weapons was about to make industrial power, 
instead of man-power, the controlling factor in war. 
This industrial power happened to begin by begetting 
masses of cannon, munitions and machine-guns, all of 
which meant increased fire-power without increasing 
mobility or protection. Indeed, these tons of steel 
decreased mobility through their mere weight. On the 
Eastern front, where industrial resources were unequal, 
German fire-power decisively defeated Russian man-power, 
no courage could stand before the hurricane of German 
shells, and the more numbers the Russians accumulated 
the better the target. In the West, with industrial 
strength on both sides, fire-power cancelled out, leaving 
the two opposing groups maintaining not only their 



2l8 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

armed hordes but also munition industries such as had 
not been seen on earth. Already armed camps, the 
nations transformed themselves into cannon-foundries; 
all available labour, including that of women, was 
sucked in to feed the guns and the peoples engaged 
in mutual destruction ; everywhere the future was 
mortgaged in astronomical figures. For years all this 
went on without positive results, the two armies were 
like angry bulls separated by a wire mesh fence 
which might be dented here and there but remained 
unbreakable. 

Because people take for granted a repetition of trench 
warfare the unbreakable fence together with complete 
national concentration on war industry, proposals have 
been made for a " universal draft." As to industrial 
concentration, however one may dislike war profiteers 
including labourers inflated like the frog in the fable 
by excessive wages it is clear that efforts to " draft " 
capital and civilian labour are jokes bound to defeat 
themselves. Since confidence is an integral part of 
capital, frighten its possessors and it will vanish like a 
fairy in a wishing cap ; and since the will to work is 
an integral part of labour, you must persuade or bribe 
the labourer into willingness or he will passively resist 
you. As to trench warfare : enter the plane and the tank. 

All military studies are based upon history, the record 
of past experiment. Obviously an experimental science 
debarred from full laboratory tests except during short, 
irregularly spaced periods corresponding to wars would 
find itself forced back upon study of the results obtained 
during former periods of full liberty ; it is not surprising 
that the elder Moltke used to put his ablest staff officers 
into his Historical Section. At the same time, changing 
circumstances forbid history to stand alone, and in the 
case of new weapons like the plane and tank it must 
be generously supplemented by study of the instruments 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 

themselves. Although the results will not equal knowledge 
based on experience, we cannot do better ; for we are 
like fifteenth-century men suddenly presented with 
powerful muskets and compelled to reason out ways 
of using them. 

First, then, the plane and tank are mobile, 
independent of roads and indifferent to obstacles. The 
one obstacle which might inconvenience planes would 
be a high net hung on captive balloons, and that only at 
night or in connection with smoke clouds. Tanks cannot 
cross marsh, most existing ones will not float or manoeuvre 
in deep water, and in spite of their astounding tree- 
felling powers they are hampered by thick woods of 
large timber. They are only just beginning to jump, 
and they can neither descend nor mount escarpments of 
more than a certain height or steepness. Nevertheless, 
the freedom of movement and the speed of both new 
weapons from a hundred to a hundred and twenty- 
five miles an hour for the plane and upwards of forty- 
five miles per hour for the new fast tanks combined 
with their other powers to which we shall come in a 
moment make them certain to modify and likely to 
abolish trench warfare as we have known it. Permanent 
fortification would be another matter, but the field 
works of the later nineteenth century, culminating in 
those of 1915-1917, grew out of the increasing defensive 
strength of modern weapons while mobility remained 
constant. Obviously the power to move and cross obstacles 
rapidly increases the strength of the tactical offensive. 
In fact, whole books might be written on the effect 
of rapidity in war. Napoleon fully understood it, 
winning most of his early victories by speed, and saying 
that the striking force of an army was the product of 
its mass multiplied by its velocity. Again he said, not 
in public but in a confidential order to a responsible 
subordinate : " With 30,000 men in transports at the 



220 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Downs, the English can paralyse 300,000 of my army, 
and that will reduce us to the rank of a second class 
power." (Correspondence XIX, 421.) Even the sailing 
ship of 1800 was so much swifter than men afoot. Nor 
did the point escape his chief commentator, Clausewitz, 
who wrote : " Rapidity smothers in the germ a hundred 
measures which the enemy might take. . . . Surprise 
resulting from promptness ... is the most efficacious 
principle of victory : Napoleon, Frederic II, Gustavus 
Adolphus, Caesar, Hannibal, Alexander have owed their 
most brilliant glory to their rapidity." 

Nor is rapidity the sole merit of plane and tank. 

After their several fashions they also have such power 

that they seem certain to make infantry subordinate. 

The power of infantry weapons is limited by the weight 

a single man can carry. All machine-guns are really 

light artillery, because each requires a team of men 

to carry the gun and its ammunition. But both plane 

and tank easily mount one or more machine-guns, and 

many tanks mount cannon as well, while planes can 

carry and drop explosives in the form of bombs. To 

tell one or a thousand riflemen to fire at a plane is like 

telling them to hit a man-eating bird on the wing. To 

oppose them to a tank is even worse, their bullets rattle 

harmlessly off the armour like those of men who might 

put out in row boats and engage a battleship. The 

Germans of 1918 were not slow to see the point. In 

All Quiet on the Western Front the German novelist 

Remarque writes : " From a mockery the tanks have 

become a terrible weapon. Armoured, they come 

rolling on in long lines, and more than anything else 

embody for us the horror of war. We do not see the 

guns that bombard us; the attacking lines of the 

enemy infantry are men like ourselves ; but these tanks 

are machines, their caterpillars run on as endless as 

the war, they are annihilation, they roll without feeling 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 221 

into the craters, and climb up again without stopping, 
a fleet of roaring, smoke - belching armour - clads, 
invulnerable steel beasts squashing- the dead and the 
wounded we shrivel up in our thin skin before them, 
against their colossal weight our arms are sticks of straw, 
and our hand-grenades matches." 

In the steadily decreasing areas unsuited to tanks 
infantry will retain its importance. But in the tank 
areas it will become "land marines," useful only as 
garrison troops, pioneers, and if carried in trucks or 
tractors so as to reach the field in time as moppers 
up after tank attacks. The foot soldier will return to 
the lowly part he played in the cavalry era of late- 
Roman and medieval times. Future defence, like attack, 
will be the function of the guns, and those of the defence 
will have to be caterpillar-mounted like those of the 
attack in order to counter the sudden concentrations 
and other manoeuvres of the latter. The supremacy 
of the gun will be nothing new and startling : a century 
ago Napoleon said : " It is with the artillery that war 
is made." From the first appearance of rifled field-pieces 
in 1870 their power relative to infantry has steadily 
grown, as early as the Russo-Japanese War competent 
observers were saying that they were now the decisive 
arm, and in the war against Germany it became proverbial 
that " artillery conquers and infantry only occupies." 
Now that the internal combustion engine has given the 
gun mobility, by marrying it to the plane and the 
caterpillar tractor, its mastery seems unquestionable. 
Against a force well provided with planes and tanks 
an army of the 1914 model, even if triply or quadruply 
superior in number of riflemen, would be helpless. 

Clearly the descent of infantry will carry down with 
it the armed horde as we have known it since 1793 ; 
weapon-power, already dominant before 1918, will 
become still more important as compared with man-power. 



222 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

The technical form hitherto characteristic of the 
" unlimited " wars of the democratic era will disappear, 
and future wars, whether imperfectly or strictly limited, 
will certainly take new forms. 

Let us examine the chances of strictly limiting these 
new military forms. Assume two human groups, each 
vehemently determined on the complete overthrow of 
the other and little troubled by moral scruples, each 
willing to make great efforts to break its enemies' will 
by invasion, blockade, or both. The chances of either 
invasion or blockade will depend not only upon the 
resources of the two sides, but also upon geographical 
circumstances ; however, let us assume the case most 
favourable to " absolute " war, i.e. that in which the 
two parties have a common land frontier. Neither will 
be entirely blind to the power of the new weapons ; 
on the other hand, military conservatism, an excellent 
thing in its way, will make both unwilling to give up 
the armed horde altogether. Both will therefore try 
to combine the new instruments with a large infantry 
force, and events will depend first on the relative emphasis 
laid upon each of these two forms of military effort, 
secondly on the proportion between the total military 
effort and the national resources. 

If one or both sides tried to combine a fully mobilized 
armed horde with a lavish production of the new weapons, 
there might be a campaign such as might have occurred 
in 1919. In Amid these Storms : Thoughts and Adventures 
Winston Churchill has written : 

" Had the Germans retained the morale to make good 
their retreat to the Rhine, they would have been assaulted 
in the summer of 1919 with forces and by* methods 
incomparably more prodigious than any yet employed. 
Thousands of aeroplanes would have shattered their 
cities. Scores of thousands of cannon would have 
blasted their front. 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 223 

"Arrangements were being made to carry 
simultaneously a quarter of a million men, together 
with all their requirements, continuously forward across 
country in mechanical vehicles moving ten or fifteen 
miles each day. Poison gases of incredible malignity, 
against which only a secret mask (which the Germans 
could not obtain in time) was proof, would have stifled 
all resistance and paralysed all life on the hostile front 
subjected to attack." 

The war ended, and data, calculations and discoveries 
were hastily bundled together, and docketed " for future 
reference " by the War Offices of every country. He says : 

" Should war come again to the world, it is not with 
the weapons and agencies prepared for 1919 that it will 
be fought, but with developments and extensions of 
these which will be incomparably more formidable 
and fatal." 

But against all this may be set a massive and 
impregnable fact already cited in Chapter XI (" Will 
War Destroy Civilization ? "). By November, 1918, the 
strain of war upon the British army and people had 
become such that Haig and Lloyd George wanted an 
immediate armistice so much that they were willing 
to grant far easier terms than those the Germans finally 
accepted. Napoleonic France had proved that twenty 
years of conscript warfare alone would exhaust a nation ; 
1918 showed that the effort to maintain both a conscript 
army and twentieth - century war industries would 
approach a breaking-point in less than five years. Since 
1918 the power of weapons, especially of the tank, has 
greatly increased relative to the unarmoured infantryman, 
therefore we are safe in saying that future governments, 
even at the highest point of military effort, will do well 
to cut down their conscript masses in order to release 
labour for industries on which the more effective, that 
is the mechanized, form of war will depend. At the same 



224 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

time, the increasing demands of war upon industry will 
make in the same direction, because it will be more 
than ever necessary to keep up the agriculture and other 
productive activities of countries in which many factories 
will be turning out expensive cannon, munitions, planes 
and tanks. Thus, whether they are to be used for " un- 
limited " or strictly limited war, the armies of the future 
will be smaller than those of the recent, democratic past. 

At the same time, planes and tanks are expensive ; 
a big bomber costs from $23,000 to $25,000, a fighting 
plane $12,000 to $14,000, a tank from $15,000 to 
$35,000. Unit costs could, of course, be somewhat 
reduced by mass production or by enslaving the labourer, 
if he consented to a Soviet Government or other form of 
universal draft, but they could not be brought below 
a certain point. Accordingly, the numbers of airmen 
and tankmen will be economically limited, like those 
of the great war-horses and fully armoured knights 
of the Middle Ages, when a suit of armour cost as much 
as a small farm. Moreover, these expensive weapons, 
although invulnerable to the infantryman's rifle, are 
highly vulnerable to guns ; a single flush hit by a shell 
from a thirty-seven millimetre or larger piece will finish a 
tank, and whoever says that planes cannot be hit knows 
nothing of to-day's constantly improving anti-aircraft 
gunnery. Therefore, if planes and tanks are to be used 
in anything like the reckless offensives of democratic 
war, their rate of wastage will be so high that no labour 
power and no economic resources will long hold out. 

On this basis, not only will future armies be smaller, 
they will also fight either shorter or much less destructive 
wars. 

True, these reductions would not appreciably limit 
war if future conflicts, as the innumerable frightfulness- 
mongers assert, will make up for their shorter duration 
and smaller forces by proportionately greater barbarity, 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 225 

horror, and destruction. Chapter IX ("The Future of 
Frightfulness ") examined the chances of deciding wars 
either by means of frightfulness in general or by the 
particular form of bombing the civil population of cities, 
concluding that the political disadvantages of barbarity 
and the technical difficulties of greatly damaging cities 
left frightfulness little future. Therefore, let it here 
suffice that although the plane and the tank and in 
naval war the submarine have each a certain power 
to attack either military or non-military objectives 
behind the front, nevertheless a superior organized 
force, supplemented of course by proper measures against 
raiders, is reasonably certain to defeat any war plan 
based upon evasion. The success of raiding against a 
superior organized force would mean only that counter 
measures had been neglected, as the Allies neglected 
them against the German submarines until April, 1917 ; 
usually, the most to be hoped from attacks on non- 
military objectives is that a small force so employed 
may lead the enemy to weaken his main concentration 
by considerable detachments sent to deal with the 
raiders. Assuming that this well-tried principle needs' 
only adaptation to make it fit any new instrument, 
let us see what might be the most effective use of planes 
and tanks in a war fought for the total overthrow of the 
enemy, in short a politically unlimited war. 

All armed effort requires bases, and planes and tanks 
need them even more than other land arms. At regular 
intervals they must return to them as fleets do for 
supplies and especially for fuel, as well as for repairs 
and for the repose of their crews. Planes are effective 
only when in motion ; in contact with the enemy their 
sole security lies in their speed, which makes them hard 
to hit. On the ground they are helpless, and from the 
ground they need a certain time, greater for the bomber 
than for the fighter, in order to rise in their air high 
p 



226 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

enough to be secure from ground artillery and to be 
on even terms with hostile planes. Thus, they can 
never be a self-sustaining arm, as was amusingly shown 
by the collapse of the Chilean Air Corps' revolt in 
September, 1932, A mutinous colonel, followed by 
some forty officers and fifty mechanics, with about 
thirty modern bombing planes, seized an aviation field. 
For a single night the neighbouring cities were in terror, 
an effect which ninety men could not otherwise have 
produced. Meanwhile, the mutineers, instead of raiding, 
were digging trenches to protect their field, after which 
they fell to carousing and were bloodlessly captured 
by a regiment of infantry. Thus the newest branch of 
the service, lacking a secure base, was ignominously 
overpowered by the oldest branch in the world. Not 
only are planes dependent upon bases, but while these 
bases are secure the fliers are stronger when operating 
well within their radius of action, say four hundred 
miles for the latest bombers, three hundred for most 
bombers, and about two hundred for pursuit planes. 

With tanks the story is much the same. Against 
pieces heavy enough to pierce their armour their security, 
like that of the plane, lies in motion. At rest they are 
vulnerable to anything heavier than rifle ammunition. 
Nor can they do much to secure themselves, they offer 
such favourable targets. They are not as helpless as 
the plane ; their guns and armour have some defensive 
power. Pits might be dug for them, sloping behind 
for retreat, but with steep sides and front, and deep 
enough so that only the guns and turret would be 
uncovered. Sometimes they might be completely 
sheltered from the front, leaving their machine-guns 
free to fire to a flank. But it is doubtful whether such 
measures would often be worth the trouble, and certainly 
immobile tanks have less defensive value than guns in 
battery on lower mountings. 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 227 

Accordingly, wars between plane and tank armies 
will turn upon bases, points fortified against ground 
and air attack and containing supplies, especially fuel. 
Pending the development of the helicopter, they must 
also contain landing fields. Strategy will try to gain 
greater range of action by pushing forward one's own 
advanced bases while taking or blockading those of 
the enemy. The resemblance to the medieval castle 
and fortress wars, or to the eighteenth-century importance 
of military magazines, is obvious. 

In so far as raiding is undertaken, the French Admiral 
Castex has shown that air strategy will be somewhat 
like that of old-fashioned coastal warfare when one side 
possessed a superior fleet and the other a superior army. 
If we imagine a case like that of the French and Italian 
Riviera in the old wars, a number of more or less well- 
defended towns connected by a single road often within 
range of deep water, the parallel is still closer. As such 
a coast used to be harassed by bombardments, dis- 
embarkations, sudden appearances and disappearances 
of the assailants, so will wide belts of the earth's surface 
be harassed by air forces. Further, the thinning of 
fronts by the reduction in size of armies will give certain 
opportunities of the same sort to fast tanks. On the 
defending side, again, the appropriate measures will 
adapt familiar principles to the new instruments : 
fortification of the most important points arsenals, 
munition factories, government offices, the water works 
and electric light and power plants of great cities 
also partial evacuations of city dwellers into the country, 
systems of observation and communication to give 
warning of raids, finally mobile detachments spaced 
here and there throughout the threatened belt to cut 
short the time at the raiders 1 disposal. The necessity 
for interior detachments which, taken together, may 
seriously weaken the organized force, is new to land 



228 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

warfare, but is no more than the old naval servitude 
to commerce protection. 

Long experience of coastal bombardments from the 
sea reinforces the experience of air bombing in the war 
against Germany to the effect that the material damage 
done is microscopic compared with the effort made. 
Exhaustive French studies of the effect of naval 
bombardments agree with the old rhyme about the 
bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut, by British 
ships in the war of 1812 : 

" They killed a pig, they killed a hen, 
They killed two chickens in a pen, 
But that was not taking Stonington/' 

In all the bombing of bridges between 1914 and 
1918 only one seems to have been broken, a Turkish 
bridge which suffered a chance hit on an abutment. 

Accordingly, it seems that the most effective raids 
will not be by air bombing but by squadrons of 
fast tanks, where they can penetrate the front or by 
demolition squads landed from large air fleets. In 
military engineering to cut a steel girder you must place 
the explosive directly on the girder and then you must 
tamp it down. Also ground raids, besides being in some 
ways more effective than air bombing, have not the moral 
and political disadvantages of that undiscriminating 
method. On the other hand, ground forces are slower 
than planes, and can be more easily located and pursued. 
Disembarkations from air craft require a landing field 
and take time : a really large raid of a hundred planes 
of the rare type capable of carrying twenty passengers, 
assuming the brief time of only two minutes per plane, 
would consume over three hours in landing alone. 
Moreover, the landing force would amount only to two 
thousand infantry with no great quantity of ammunition 
and only a few of the lightest pieces to hold off defending 
planes and tanks. As in the old coastal raids, the worst 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 229 

moment for the raiders would be that of re-embarkation 
under pressure ; a few defending planes might cut off 
retreat, even if they were able only to cut up the landing 
field with bomb craters so that the raiding planes, having 
taken on their landing force, might have difficulty in 
taking the air. Helicopters would make landing and 
perhaps rising easier, but at the expense of speed in the 
air. Accordingly, the raids most to be feared would 
land small parties near an insufficiently guarded bridge, 
viaduct, or tunnel, explode demolition charges, and 
be off. During active operations between the organized 
forces the mere cutting of the transmission wires of an 
electrified railroad might be of value. As always, the 
conclusive way to deal with raiders will be to break 
up or push back their bases. Probably the old rule 
for the operations of "independent cavalry" will hold 
good; i.e. the highly mobile arms of the service will 
be most valuable when their action directly contributes 
to the success of the main fighting force. 

Passing to the shock between organized forces, 
history and reflection teach caution in predicting the 
future. When we say that events will turn upon this 
or that factor we are using a conversational shorthand 
which ignores other factors, especially the superlatively 
important accident of leadership and the vast possibilities 
of chance. Far more than the small war of raiding and 
commerce destroying, in which accidents to both sides 
tend to cancel out, battles are pregnant with uncertainty, 
and a single lucky throw may determine great sweeps 
of the future. If in 1870 the French machine-gnus 
had been better handled, that weapon might have 
dominated tactics forty-four years before it actually 
did. Had the French won, regular troops would 
doubtless have remained fashionable as against con- 
scripts. So the defeat of an ill-led or unlucky tank- 
and-plane army by one weaker in those arms but 



230 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

stronger in infantry might postpone what seems an 
inevitable development. Nevertheless, with leadership 
and chance at all equal, superiority in the new arms 
seems likely to decide the issue. In the days of smooth- 
bore muskets one continually reads that this or that 
regiment, caught by a mounted charge before it could 
form square, was ridden down and destroyed. Cavalry 
seldom if ever rushed headlong on a formed hedge of 
bayonets, but lapped around the flanks, compelling the 
hostile infantry to form an all around defence instantly 
and on the exact spot where they happened to be, which 
might make the squares admirable targets for artillery. 
The action of planes and tanks will doubtless be similar 
in principle : unless the enemies' anti - aircraft and 
anti-tank guns themselves are caterpillar mounted, 
plane and tank operations should be able to immobilize 
him so that he can do nothing toward winning his 
war. He will be like a turtle withdrawn into his shell 
or a porcupine curled up. Meanwhile, the superior 
mechanized force will roam at will through the rest of 
the theatre of war, cutting oft detachments, interrupting 
communications, and living at their ease. Should the 
porcupine unroll and start to move, the speed of the 
mechanized troops will permit them to make him coil 
up again when and where they choose. 

As to the tactical form of the operations, presumably 
all arms of the service will do well to co-operate closely. 
Infantry, although reduced in importance, will not 
vanish : tank forces in active service will need some 
carried in trucks, or better in fast tractors for moppers 
up after their attacks and for the service of security 
at night. All experience since 1918 seems to show that 
air forces will accomplish far more in close combat 
liaison with ground troops. In Nicaragua planes were 
only once decisive in actual combat ; in July, 1927, a 
U.S. Marine and Guardia Nacional post at Ocotal was 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 23! 

attacked at i a.m. Next morning two photographing 
planes discovered the siege, and at half-past three in 
the afternoon five combat planes from Managua arrived 
and found the bandits bunched in a nearby ravine, 
consulting about the attacks to be delivered that night. 
The planes dropped all their bombs before the enemy 
could leave the ravine, then chased and machine-gunned 
the fugitives until all ammunition was exhausted, 
inflicting about two hundred estimated casualties. But 
future attacks on towns and ambushing of patrols on 
trails were always commenced and broken off before 
the planes could reach the spot (from " Tactics of Bush 
Warfare," by Major Roger W. Peard, U.S.M.C., in the 
Infantry Journal, September-October, 1931). European 
experience is much the same. After the war, when the 
French began to have trouble in Syria and Morocco, 
they began by thinking that their planes would easily 
subdue the Druses and the Riffians. On the contrary, 
air action only made matters worse until the ground 
arms were called in : a bomb dropped on a village might 
kill the best friends of the French there, nor was air 
attack very hard to avoid. British experience on the 
north-west frontier of India has been parallel : air 
work alone accomplished small results compared with 
the effort expended, but proved most valuable when 
combined with small ground forces. Without these 
last the barbarous enemy could escape loss by taking 
to caves. The one area in which the Air Corps by itself 
has accomplished results is in Mesopotamia, where the 
Arabs are timid and happen to be vulnerable to air 
attack because they depend on their flocks, which planes 
can scatter and molest. In real fighting against enemies 
possessing anti-aircraft guns planes seem likely to 
prove not much more than a most valuable form of light 
cavalry which gets information, blinds the enemy for 
short periods, and completes the demoralization of 



232 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

a beaten force. Only when anti-aircraft guns are 
insufficient will the airmen be able to rush unshaken 
troops. As in the old wars, rash charges will not be 
worth the losses. Planes will, of course, affect all ground 
operations, compelling dispersion, night marches, etc., 
but by itself air work seems unlikely to be decisive. 

Turning to the general military policy of future 

plane and tank wars, although the United States Army 

Industrial College does well to consider how mass 

production might be applied, the nature of the instruments 

seems to demand quality rather than quantity of 

personnel. As weapons increase in power and cost they 

increasingly reward skill and penalize blundering. In 

civil life an inexpertly handled axe or sledge hammer is 

bad enough, but a green-horn with a steam hammer or 

charge of dynamite spells disaster. The same thing is 

true in delicate matters such as the arts ; anyone, after 

a fashion, can play the tom-tom but not everyone can 

play the piano, still less a church organ. So in war, 

two strong and courageous men, although they might 

never have fought with clubs, together might kill the 

most skilful single club-man, whereas two men who had 

never handled a high-powered rifle would be easy meat 

for a crack shot at fifty yards or more. In the plane and 

tank you have very costly weapons, enormously effective 

in skilful hands, but requiring real technical skill to 

operate, and vulnerable if unwisely exposed. In the war 

against Germany a single air ace would shoot down plane 

after hostile plane; if numbers combined against him 

they only got in each others way. And in general, armed 

with planes and fast tanks a highly trained few should 

beat far greater numbers of mediocre or ill-instructed men. 

Thus the plane and tank are not horde weapons, and 

should suit the present Italian and Russian tendency 

to govern by means of an armed 61ite. A shift to 

military quality instead of quantity has more than 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 233 

once been thought probable by good judges of war, 
even without reference to the new weapons. As early 
as 1883, in the lusty manhood of the European armed 
hordes, and in the full tide of praise for them which fills 
Von Der Goltz's Nation in Arms we find these words : 
" The day will come when the present aspect of war 
will dissolve, when forms, customs and opinions will 
again be altered. Looking forward into the future, we 
seem to feel the coming of a time when the armed millions 
of the present will have played out their part. A new 
Alexander will arise, who, with a small body of well- 
equipped skilled warriors, will drive the impotent hordes 
before him ; when, in their eagerness to multiply, they 
shall have overstepped all proper bounds, have lost 
cohesion, and, like the green-banner army of China, have 
become transformed into a numberless but effete host 
of Philistines" (English Ed., 1906, p. 5). And the late 
R. M. Johnston, perhaps the ablest American military 
writer of our time, said in his First Reflections on the 
Campaign of 1918 that " A force of one hundred thousand 
highly-trained professional troops could have marched 
through many places in the Western Front, and in 
either direction. By highly-trained professional soldiers 
I have in mind men enlisting as boys at sixteen, passing 
into the ranks three years later, thoroughly competent 
in another five years, and serving eight more years 
thereafter ." And this in a book which, I believe, does not 
even mention the words mechanization, plane or tank ! 
Plenty of educated soldiers who saw the constant mis- 
direction and waste of effort inevitable among the armed 
millions of 1914-1918 would agree with Maurice de Saxe 
that "multitudes serve only to perplex and embarrass." 
How far quality of troops might come to replace 
quantity we cannot say. While it is significant that 
the French disarmament plan, proposed in October, 
1932, takes pains to do away with the high-quality little 



234 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

German army whose twelve-year-service men have Deen 
estimated as worth three times their number of short- 
service conscripts, on the other hand the Germans 
themselves are agitating for a shorter enlistment 
obviously to increase their number of trained reserves. 

At all events, any substitution of high training for 
huge numbers must bring changes in the conduct of war. 
Whereas drafted men, being plentiful and cheap, are 
expendable in large numbers, generals must think twice 
before throwing away long-term veterans ; the support 
and instruction of these last will have made each man a 
real investment on the part of his Government, an asset 
not to be spent except for full value. Obviously the cost 
of tanks and planes will work in the same direction. We 
need not expect such caution as that of Jellicoe with 
his irreplaceable mastodons at Jutland, still less bloodless 
imitation battles like those fought by the sixteenth- 
century Italian mercenaries so justly despised by 
Machiavelli, nevertheless the rule against squandering 
that which cannot easily be replaced will hold good. 
Indeed, it is physically impossible to replace highly- 
trained men except over a term of years. Instead of 
expecting to march to victory only over vast heaps of 
their own dead, skilful generals will study how to avoid 
loss while inflicting it on the enemy. 

This method is as old as the world ; it has been 
used by every long-service professional army in history. 
The fourth-century Roman military writer, Vegetius, 
advocated it when Tie wrote : " It is better to beat the 
enemy through want, surprises, and care for difficult 
places (i.e. through manoeuvre) than by a battle in the 
open field." The "Strategicon" of the sixth-century 
East Roman Emperor Maurice says : " It is better to 
win by superior skill and leadership than by sheer force ; 
in the one case the results are achieved without loss, 
in the other some price must be paid. . . . Courage 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 235 

and discipline are more important than numbers ; for 
the nature of the ground is often decisive and gives 
victory to the weaker force. . . . A wily enemy is 
more to be feared than a daring one." Three hundred 
years later the "Tactica" of Leo the Wise is in the 
same tradition : " A skilful general is one who gets 
results at little cost in lives." Rabelais, full of his classical 
reading, makes Grangousier plan to oppose Picrochole 
"... with as little effusion of blood as may be ; and 
if possible by means far more expedient, such as military 
policy, devices and stratagems of war." The doctrine 
was familiar to the early modern professional soldiers 
and was elaborated by the eighteenth-century standing 
armies. Foch quotes Joly de Maizeroy : " The science 
of war consists not only in knowing how to fight, but 
still more in avoiding battle, in choosing one's positions, in 
planning one's moves so as to reach one's goal without risk 
... let battle be given only when judged unavoidable." 
Again he cites Massenbach's praise of Prince Henry 
of Prussia, Frederic the Great's brother : " He knew how 
to woo fortune by bold moves ; more fortunate than Caesar 
at Dyrachium, greater than Cond6 at Rocroi, he attained, 
like the immortal Berwick, victory without battle." 
The Generalissimo of 1918 goes on to quote Maurice de 
Saxe : " I do not favour battles, especially at the beginning 
of a war. I am sure that a clever general can wage 
it as long as he lives without being compelled to battle." 
I digress for a moment so instructive is the case of 
Foch to note that his high intelligence was far from 
missing the point of the eighteenth-century doctrine : 
in the very act of praising Napoleon's continual and 
consuming desire for battle he visibly pauses to ponder 
Clausewitz's query : " Who knows whether in a few 
generations the craze for the old fencing . . . will not 
reappear, whether the campaigns and battles of Napoleon 
may not then be criticized as the actions of a barbarian ? " 



236 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

Clausewitz's flash of foresight has been all too well 
justified by events ; in the lurid light of 1914-1918, not 
only Napoleon but Ludendorff and Foch himself loom 
barbarically enough, darkening a still exhausted Christen- 
dom with their black shadows. But because the French 
of 1870 had used their powerful weapons ill, Foch refused 
to study the effect of maUriel upon war and therefore 
failed to divine the future : tactically he was deceived 
into the astonishing statement that increased fire-power, 
even without increased mobility, would strengthen the 
offensive ! Had that error been confined to him, the 
armies of 1914-1918 would have suffered less. Worse 
still, he was hypnotized by what he himself called 
"... those glorious examples of the people's passions 
. . . known to us by the names of Valmy, Saragossa, 
Tarancon, Moscow, Leipzig." In other words, he saw 
fit to admire the unchained popular fury which has made 
the era of democracy that of mass massacre. To-day, 
we should be wiser, although it is not yet certain that 
we are. 

To return to the eighteenth-century method, the man 
who doubts the courage of its armies is ignorant of history, 
for the heroism of its battles has never been surpassed. 
Nor were its generals lacking in daring ; Marlborough 
and Frederic were as determined gamblers as any great 
captain of all time. They were none the less bold 
because they knew they must not overdraw their moderate 
balances in human lives ; Frederic was especially careful 
to remember that? after all, his army would have to 
fight again next year. Vauban advises besiegers, should 
their enemy sally out, occupy their advanced trenches, 
and begin destroying them, not to be hasty in driving 
him back but to let their fire play upon him in his exposed 
position, so that his sortie may cost him more men than 
its results are worth ; but this is not a counsel of timidity, 
it is an elementary calculation of profit and loss. When 



TANKS, PLANES AND LIMITED WAR 237 

Prince Eugene, out-manoeuvred at the Battle of Denain, 
lost his temper and threw away some lives in trying 
to retake a certain bridge, his French opponent severely 
criticized his conduct because, although not compelled 
to do so, he had attacked with the chances against him ; 
he had " gotten seven or eight hundred men killed . . . 
uselessly." One may compare the millions uselessly 
sacrificed in the trench attacks of 1915-1916, and 1917 
up to the tank battle of Cambrai. 

Sooner or later future states will be wise enough 
to imitate the eighteenth-century Tsar Peter the Great, 
who insisted that his generals, whatever else they might 
do, must get their results and win their victories at the 

cost of but little blood. 

* * * * * 

The small numbers of future armies, besides com- 
pelling generals to economize lives, will also reduce 
the ability of a victor to occupy hostile territory. Police 
work requires not great fighting power but numbers ; 
the average policeman needs no weapons beyond his 
club and revolver, but there must be enough of them 
constantly on duty or public order will suffer. Mobility 
strengthens the action of police reserves, but cannot 
make up for the want of enough men on post. The 
plane and tank tend to divide modern armies in a sharp 
fashion reminiscent of medieval forces : first there are 
the soldiers par excellence, armed with the powerful 
new weapons and corresponding to fully-armoured knights ; 
next there are the second line troops, including most 
of the infantry, less formidably equipped than the plane 
and tank men and corresponding to the militias recruited 
from the peasants and town burghers of the Middle 
Ages. The French disarmament plan of October, 1932, 
whatever else one may think of it, is interesting in that 
it so clearly recognizes the two categories of soldiery: 
certain powerful weapons, including fighting planes 



238 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

and large, mobile cannon, are to be reserved for an 
international army of professional troops, leaving the 
nations of continental Europe with only "defensive 
militias." In future wars, if one side be much stronger 
in planes and tanks than its adversary, after defeating 
the hostile armies it will, of course, be able at its leisure 
to organize occupying infantry. But it will be the air 
force and tank corps which will do the heavy fighting, 
and in so far as peace-time military effort is more and more 
centred on these formidable branches the secondary 
job of raising abundant infantry should go out of fashion. 
Governments will say : " Since the real work of beating 
the enemies' force will be done by our first line of airmen 
and tank-men, let us take no chances, but make that 
first line strong. The infantry masses, who can con- 
tribute little toward winning battles, and will be needed 
chiefly to hold down the conquered territory that is 
if we win may be comparatively neglected." 

War, should it lose the overwhelming tragedy and 
horror of our mass massacres, need not lose the glamour 
which has never failed the man-at-arms and has always 
at least dignified his tomb. To face death will never 
be other than heroic ; if the fate of the professional 
soldier be not so sad as that of the conscript torn from 
his home, nevertheless he has a poetry of his own. The 
tank-man is the spiritual descendant of the Companions 
of Alexander, scattering the innumerable Persians like 
dust ; he is the armoured Byzantine horse-archer, 
victoriously stinging back from Eastern Europe the 
barbaric hordes of a thousand years ; or the steel-clad 
medieval knight, gleefully spurring his great charger 
into no matter how vast a Jacquerie of revolted peasants. 

Nevertheless, no form of military technique, whether 
it seem favourable to the strict limitation of war or not, 
can by itself achieve limitation. That is a matter of 
the human will. 



CHAPTER XIII 

PEACE AND ORDER 

ALL thoughtful study of war and peace, beginning with 
military technique and immediate policy, ends far from 
both. 

Every peace must be one of exhaustion or one of order. 
In the first case men say : " For the moment we have 
not the strength to fight longer. Therefore we submit, 
but we do so unwillingly, and when we are stronger, or 
have gained Allies, or when misfortune has befallen our 
enemies, we will renew the struggle." So said the Poles 
for more than a century, from their partitions by Prussia 
and her accomplices until their re-establishment following 
the recent World War, and so said the French regarding 
Alsace-Lorraine. 

But what is order ? Superficially it is the policeman's 
club, reinforced in emergency by the soldier's rifle and 
bayonet to put down crime, to compose private quarrels, 
and in general to enforce rules of conduct known as 
laws. That is the necessajy physical order, and the 
permanent imperfection of mankind more vigorously 
known to our ancestors as original sin compels us 
always to support that physical order by force ; whether 
we call him policeman or soldier, the man-at-arms must 
for ever stand guard against the criminal and quarrelsome, 
be they many or few. 

However, we need only think for a moment to see 
that physical order, whose necessary instrument is 
force, depends on an intellectual and moral order whose 

239 



240 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

instrument is persuasion. The truth that moral order 
alone makes physical order possible can be easily tested 
by imagining a society persuaded of no rules for conduct, 
so that all citizens murdered or robbed others whenever 
they felt inclined ; among such impossibly wicked and 
foolish men physical order could not be preserved, and 
all would soon starve. A peace of order, the only one 
worth having, appears when men say : " On the whole 
we think our Government just. Therefore we willingly 
acknowledge its authority and freely submit to its 
laws." 

If anyone ask why men should think a particular 
Government just, there seems no answer except that the 
idea of justice is mystical, resting upon strong conviction, 
but incapable of positive proof. An intellectual assent 
alone can support the simplest rules of conduct because 
they are useful and convenient ; vehicles must have 
rules of the road so that there may be fewer collisions, 
but above this elementary level mysticism is always 
creeping in. Men have never been content to say : 
" It is socially useful that men should not steal " ; they 
have always insisted on saying : " It is wicked that 
James should steal the goods of John, and in order to 
prevent such wrong John may lawfully kill James in 
the act if he can." Or on the point of nationalism they 
say : " It is right that we, being Americans or Englishmen 
or Mexicans or whatnot, should be governed by men of 
our own nation, and we will fight to the death rather 
than be ruled by foreigners." But suppose an aggressor 
says : " I am a better man than you, more industrious, 
more intelligent or more cultured. I could run your 
affairs more efficiently than you yourself. It is right 
that the superior should rule the inferior, and you yourself 
will be benefited by becoming my servant." It is darkly 
rumoured that certain Germans said something like 
that in 1914. The victim of aggression can support 



PEACE AND ORDER 24! 

his preference for doing what he likes only by asserting 
a mystical right as against theft or foreign rule. 

Further, the mystical ideas of right, which are the 
support of order, usually attach themselves to some 
explanation of the central mystery of human life, that 
is to some religion. Chesterton has well said that, 
historically, men have never begun by saying : " If 
you do not hit me I will not hit you," but have always 
said : " We must not hit one another in the Holy Place." 

We need not here debate why rules of conduct should 
go off into mystery. Suffice it that mysteries are all 
about us, that to ignore them is the mark of stupidity ; 
to discover them the mark of intelligence. Many, if not 
most of them, have nothing to do with religion ; there 
are the mysteries of number by which every figure could 
be indefinitely multiplied and every fraction indefinitely 
subdivided until the mathematician died of exhaustion ; 
there is the mystery of space, time and motion ; there is 
the mystery of human identity, by which an individual 
begins as a baby, turns into a youth, and finally into 
an old man, changing his chemical composition with 
every mouthful of food and yet remaining from birth 
to death the same person. But the greater mysteries 
are religious : Whence do we come ? Whither do we 
go ? Above all, why are we here ? 

At all events, moral order within a state is the care 
of its priests, or if the reader prefers its "ministers 
of religion" or "moral teachers," and the task of the 
soldier is to safeguard that moral order by extending 
it into the physical world. The alliance between priest 
and soldier has been stated in many ways ; there is an 
old French proverb that the Devil fears the sabre and 
the Holy Water sprinkler : " Le Diable craint le sabre 
et le goupillon," To Sherman's saying : " The legitimate 
object of war is a more perfect peace," Fuller has added : 
" The legitimate object of peace is a more perfect man." 

Q 



242 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

To this again we may add : The study of and approach 
toward human perfection is the object of religion. 

The moral like the physical order must continually 
resist attack ; just as in every group there are some 
too stupid or too wicked to refrain from crime, so every 
man or woman has in them a streak of anarchy rebellious 
to all command except that of the instinctive appetites, 
especially the appetite for power, the desire to domineer. 
So St. Paul praises virtue as " The whole armour of God," 
and the Word meaning not the arbitrary grunts or 
squeals of this or that language, but the reason, the 
intelligence carving out ideas he calls a sword. The 
propaganda of 1914-1918 has reminded us that the 
Word is a weapon ; indeed, it is the weapon which has 
struck down the societies that seem to have been 
destroyed by conquest ; either they have forsaken their 
ideas under the discouragement of defeat and the 
prestige of the invader's victory, or else those ideas 
were already dead, so that the conqueror only cleaned 
up a rubbish heap, as Napoleon swept away the feudal 
privileges of Europe. If the conquered keep their soul 
alive, then like the Poles they survive. All order even 
in the mind must be an order of battle. 

More and more men, seeing the dangers we are in 
through our unhappy divisions, begin to realize that 
at bottom those divisions are moral. While every 
nation says, " My right must override all other rights," 
there can be no peace of order between nations. While 
those who call themselves spokesmen for one class say 
to the others, " You have no right which we will respect," 
there can be no peace of order between classes. 

We are compelled to seek order through unity. We 
have attempted a world federation, the League of Nations, 
but every day makes it clearer that a world state is little 
better than a mechanical robot. It must continually 
strike against the living patriotism of this or that nation. 



PEACE AND ORDER 243 

and whenever it does so it will break as a rotten branch 
snaps against seasoned oak ; no such legalistic and 
hypocritical sham will cement the divisions of 
Christendom. But the mere word " Christendom " 
suggests an alternative ; instead of a political and 
legalistic federation clashing against national patriotisms, 
we might preserve and transcend these local loyalties 
within a reunited Christian Church. 

It was the Church, building upon that which was 
good and beautiful in pagan antiquity, that formed 
our culture. She not only limited war, the kindly shadow 
of her cathedrals safeguarded the labour of the guild, 
the good cheer of the tavern, the permanence of marriage 
and the home. We have left her only to wade deeper 
and deeper in the blood first of Religious then of 
Democratic massacres. With the cathedral once in 
ruins, an icy blast from chaos has swept everywhere, 
half choking the jollity of the tavern in a dry dust of 
teetotal fanaticism, swinging the labourer and all society 
to and fro on a chain of unrestricted competition between 
the greed of our booms and the puzzled misery of our 
slumps, whirling away wives from husbands and parents 
from children in the cruel eddies of divorce. The 
senseless fury of our butcheries is only the lurid measure 
of our discontent. 

Sooner or later our confused ferment will subside. 
Either the commercial rich will produce men who* are 
gentlemen in the old sense, part statesmen and part 
soldiers, or else our increasing disorder itself will recall 
the man-at-arms, compelling us to rally around leaders 
who are natural fighting men. In either case the 
soldier will return, scattering the democratic hordes 
and supplanting the rich traders who are the plutocratic 
masters of democracy ; he will impose order and will 
rule. But whether his orders will be just and his rule 
happy we shall not know until we see whether he has 



244 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

the priest by his side. For religion not only commands 
j the governed to obey, it also commands the ruler not 
' to oppress. 

The obstacles to a reunited Christendom are very 
great. Local interest, inertia, routine and the rubbish 
of dead traditions block the way. But our need of 
reunion is greater still. 

Let us map out the terrain. Let us imagine a man 
from Mars, remote from our controversies, but well 
knowing our civilization and its history, called in to 
advise. How would he estimate the situation ? He 
would say : The Empire and the Church made you. 
But long ago the Empire sank to a name ; Napoleon, 
who might have restored it, over-reached himself and 
has left no successors. The murderous fallacies of 
democracy and naturalism, emphasizing that part of 
us which we share with the animals, are indeed vulnerable 
to purely intellectual attack from humanist scholars 
concerned with that which is not animal but specifically 
human in man. At the same time humanism alone, 
without a God, can inspire no loyalty around which 
moral order might rally : the humanist must remain 
an auxiliary skirmishing usefully on the flanks of the 
legions that march under the banner of the cross. The 
Christian Faith has not perished, and not for a moment 
has any other Faith appeared capable of replacing it ; 
except for Japan no great power oti earth stands 
outside the Christian tradition. Even the atheist Moscow 
Jews cannot neglect the Church, they at least pay it 
the compliment of persecution. If throughout the 
world faith has cooled, is that any wonder among the 
disunity of those who call themselves Christians ? The 
wonder is that anything of your religion has survived 
its own dissensions. You must restore the religious 
unity of Christendom within the Universal Church of 
Christ. 



PEACE AND ORDER 245 

Next lie would turn to our religious divisions, noting 
first that three great powers, the United States, England 
and Prussianized Germany belong to the Protestant 
culture. He would find the men of that culture con- 
centrated upon " practicality," that is immediate results 
irrespective of logic and of principle. He would remember 
their great nineteenth-century successes, passing in review 
their economic and industrial development. Never- 
theless, he would see weaknesses in that culture 
which are no accidents but a part of its inmost nature. 
Protestantism began as a protest against real and 
admitted evils, hence its concern for immediate things 
and its astonishing self-satisfaction. Meanwhile, the 
protestors agreed with each other only in rejecting 
tradition : hence their movement remains essentially 
negative, as the fabled Ulsterman who on his deathbed, 
asked to give some sign that he died a Christian, used 
his last lungs to cry : " To Hell with the Pope ! " On 
the positive side their only authority has been mere 
individual interpretation of scripture ; hence they are 
for ever splitting up into new sects, like the " fissiparous " 
low forms of life which propagate by breaking into pieces. 
In its youth each sect is warmed by a white - hot 
enthusiasm, that of the Mormons and Christian Scientists 
to-day is of the same sort as that of the Calvinists three 
hundred years ago ; but so strained a mood cannot 
last, and the ideas of each new body are more and jnore 
eccentric to men and women of education and culture. 
Therefore on its religious side the Protestant culture 
is in decay; its churches still hold up their numbers, 
but their theology has faded to a vague, humanitarian 
benevolence, administered by bewildered ministers whose 
authority has gone. Protestant ethics have shrunk to 
barbaric taboos against the adornments or little 
amusements of life, cigarettes, wine or whatnot, which 
provincial taboos meet with an increasing resistance, 



246 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

especially among the young ; the rising hatred of the 
American people for Prohibitionists is own brother . to 
the contempt of the American soldiers of 1917-1918 
for the Y.M.C.A. Gospellers. 

Meanwhile, on the political side Protestantism is the 
direct source of our modern chaos. Its appearance 
marked a great flood -tide of nationalism ; since moral 
authority must go somewhere, that which slipped from 
the hands of the quarrelling sects strengthened the 
prestige of Governments. Protestant contempt for the 
traditional sacraments of Christendom weakened the 
sacramental tie between kings and their peoples, so that 
the eighteenth - century democratic movement on its 
destructive side was Protestantism's child. Universal 
suffrage, private judgement as against tradition in the 
State, followed naturally from private judgement as 
against traditional authority in religion. Further, the 
localism of the Protestant bodies exaggerated nationalism, 
setting up each province of Christendom as a law unto 
itself a "chosen people" like the ancient Jews whose 
Old Testament so coloured Protestant thought. Worst 
of all, for kings and nobles Protestantism could only 
substitute traders, not men of the sword but men of the 
purse, dedicated to gain, believing that the duty of man 
was to " make " as much money as he could, consumers 
and not producers of public order. Thus the Protestant 
societies led in removing the medieval restrictions upon 
economic competition, and thereby produced vast masses 
of proletarians owning nothing exactly the condition 
which the medieval restrictions had successfully 
prevented. Further, the Protestant absorption in 
economics led to materialism, a belief that only tangible 
and measurable things were important to mankind. 
Materialism powerfully divided society, which only 
common beliefs can unite ; if a man must share the 
money in his purse he has not more but less, while if 



PEACE AND ORDER 247 

he finds another who shares his belief he believes not 
less but more. Recently acquisitiveness and materialism 
have produced their own nemesis and caricature in 
Communism, a materialist religion of hatred and slavery 
professing to satisfy the physical needs of all. 

By mere dispassionate analysis of ideas and their 
social consequences, our visitor from another planet 
would conclude that Protestantism can produce no 
moral order capable of healing the bloody hatreds of 
our time. 

At the same time he would notice hopeful signs of 
transformation within the Protestant culture. Taking 
first the unmistakably Protestant bodies, he would 
find almost all tending toward ritual and toward 
symbolism in architecture. He would note that super- 
ficially these changes involved no change in doctrine, 
but merely an increase in education and artistic culture. 
Nevertheless, he would see in every scrap of ecclesiastical 
millinery a tiny step toward sacramentalism the 
traditional sanctities of altar and shrine that are older 
than history. Moreover, he would pause over the 
Anglican Communion, including the Church of England, 
the oddly - named " Protestant Episcopalian " Church 
in America, and the other Anglican bodies. It would 
need no long study of Anglicanism to discover its peculiar 
position ; superficially part of the Protestant culture, 
the Church of England, none the less claims to be no 
new body but a part of the historic Church, descerfding 
in unbroken succession from the apostles. Moreover, 
traditionalism becomes more and more her principle 
of life as the Protestant opinions surviving within her 
ebb steadily away. 

More hopefully, our man from Mars would next 
turn to the Roman Catholic culture, whose position he 
would judge somewhat as follows : Its Church united 
under the Pope, the Roman Catholic world includes 



248 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

two great powers, France and Italy, and two othei 
states of international importance, Spain and Poland, 
Its nationalisms and democracy equal those of the 
Protestant culture; indeed, France led Europe to 
democracy, but at the same time its intellect and its 
economics have gone their own way. Against the 
Protestant passion for immediate results, practicality, 
pragmatism, etc., the Roman Catholic culture has stood 
firmly for clear thought and accurate logic. If its 
industries cannot equal those of the Protestant societies, 
neither does it suffer so much from their vile cancer of 
proletarianism ; its social order is firmly based upon 
free land-owning peasantries. Less easily seduced by 
the delusive hope of speculative riches, its peoples are 
content to work and save. Over against the vast 
incoherence of the Protestant world, its unity and 
order are impressive. Unhappily, the Roman Catholic 
culture has its own grave weaknesses : abuse of logic 
and religious despotism. Its love for neatness of reasoning 
has too often blinded it to fact. We saw in the last 
chapter how so fine an intellect as that of Foch, tricked 
with a mathematical appearance of proof, long believed 
that modern fire-power would strengthen the offensive 
in war ! Reasoning from imperfect assumptions, the 
correctness of his logic merely magnified his error. In 
the political sphere the same taste for absolute logic 
makes for absolute power ; no logic is more compelling 
thai! 1 that of despotism unless it be that of anarchy. 
The point might be illustrated from the history of the 
French Bourbon -monarchy, the chief political achieve- 
ment of the distinctively Roman Catholic societies, but 
it is best seen in the Papacy itself. 

The resistance to Papal absolutism taking the 
forms of Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Latin 
Anti-Clericalism has reduced the Pope, once the First 
Bishop of all Christendom, to the despot of a minority 



PEACE AND ORDER 249 

-of the Christian world. As far as canon law can make 
him so, the Roman Catholic layman is subordinate to 
his priest, the priest to his bishgp, and the bishop to the 
Pope. Financially responsible to no one, the Vatican has 
never publicly audited its budget, but disposes of its vast 
revenues in perfect autocracy. The canon law has been 
so centralized that for many important cases the Vatican 
courts, instead of courts of appeal, have become courts 
of first instance. Such are the temptations of absolute 
power, that we need not wonder to find such a system 
now and then begetting corruption and abuse ; on the 
contrary, it speaks volumes for the wisdom and rectitude 
of most Roman Catholic leaders that the results have 
not been far worse. 

Nevertheless, the fruits of Papal centralization have 
been bitter enough. In the eleventh century it separated 
the single Roman Patriarchate of the West from the 
four Patriarchates of the East. Throughout the later 
Middle Ages and early sixteenth century Papal financial 
demands were the scandal of Europe ; together with 
the happily temporary personal degradation of 
the Papal office, those demands led directly to the 
Reformation, leaving Western or Latin Christendom, 
already separated from the Christian East, still further 
divided against itself. When the Papacy replied to the 
Protestants by centralizing itself still further, its claims 
and those of its clergy provoked strong anti-clerical 
movements throughout most of the Roman obedience, 
and this hostility to the political power of the clergy, 
moderate under the kings, became more bitter under 
the democracies. In the Latin countries anti-clericalism 
has become largely atheist, and has led to legalized 
robbery of Church property, which in turn has increased 
Papal centralization still more, because of the dependence 
of the local clergy upon the Papacy as against their 
persecuting Governments. The old kings both curbed 



250 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

the political power of their local Churches and defended 
the traditional liberties of those Churches against Papal 
encroachment. In France the anti-clericalism of the 
Third Republic is considered the chief merit of the 
regime ; the average Frenchman, after heartily abusing 
the universally unpopular parliamentary politicians, will 
qualify his condemnation by saying that at least the 
Republic has saved his country from government by 
priests. In the English-speaking countries, in spite 
of the growing incoherence of Protestantism and the 
new intellectual activity among Roman Catholics, it is 
not certain that their communion is increasing in 
numbers ; apparently the converts are equalled if not 
outnumbered by those who fall away. In the United 
States most of those who leave the Church give the 
financial demands of the clergy among their reasons for 
going. Confronted with the loss of the Orthodox 
Christian East, of the Protestants, and of the vehement 
Latin anti-clericals, supporters of the present centraliza- 
tion of the Roman Catholic Church must either call 
most of mankind perverse and blind or else they must 
suspect that their own system might be improved. 

Yet in the Roman Catholic culture, as in the 
Protestant, our interplanetary visitor would discover 
reasons for encouragement. He would rejoice at the 
new intellectual vigour within the Church, so different 
from the slackness of a century and a half ago, and 
he would anticipate a steady weakening of clerical 
domination before the rising tide of well-educated and 
zealous laity. Notwithstanding the ever-present dread 
of " scandal " and the unifying effect of standing shoulder 
to shoulder against Protestantism, he would note plenty 
of resentment at the concentration of ecclesiastical 
power and wealth within the Vatican. From faithful 
Roman Catholics in Europe he would hear the frequent 
wish for greater local control of Church life. He would 



PEACE AND ORDER 251 

even come upon occasional protests against the scandals 
of the Papal judiciary ; in the writing of so notable a 
champion of the Church as Belloc he might read acid, 
resentful little comments such as "the annulment of 
marriage . . . was a practice abused, and ... is 
indeed abused to this day " (History of England, vol. ii, 
p. 22-3, published 1927 shortly after the notorious 
Marlborough and Marconi annulments). Doubtless his 
attention would be called to the repeated and significant 
saying of the great Cardinal Mercier that the Church 
had greatly centralized her organization without ceasing 
to be the Church, and might decentralize herself again 
if she chose. 

Finally, having surveyed the Protestant and Roman 
Catholic worlds, our man from Mars would consider 
the third Christian culture, the Eastern Orthodox. He 
would appreciate the isolation of the Christian East, its 
separate calendar, its alphabets differing not only from 
the Latin letters common to Protestant and Papalist, 
but also from one Orthodox nation to another. He 
would see the Church in what was yesterday the great 
Orthodox power, Russia, subjected to a persecuting 
atheist tyranny. But at the same time he would not 
be long in learning that Orthodoxy combines unbroken 
faithfulness to tradition with elasticity of thought ; 
Orthodox leaders would tell him that the law of the 
Church is not that of logic but that of love. He would 
be touched by the joyful mysticism of the Eastern 
Church ; indeed, that spirit might explain to him why 
centuries of non-Christian rule by Turks and Tartars 
have never yet shaken the Faith of a single East- 
European people, which bit of history would make him 
slow to believe predictions of the approaching dis- 
appearance of Orthodoxy in Russia. He would observe 
the present tendency of the Orthodox, while preserving 
the essence of their own traditions, to familiarize 



252 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

themselves with Western thought ; perhaps he would 
hope that at last the Bolshevik terror in Russia may 
have some such effect in that unhappy country. If 
the Bolshevik Jews to-day have shaken the Russian 
masses out of their inertia and are teaching them to 
admire the worst results of Western civilization, large 
scale industry and the worship of the machine, perhaps 
those masses may end by appreciating some of the riper 
fruits of Western culture. Aside from such distant 
hopes, the growing friendship between the Orthodox 
and Anglican Churches, with its bright promise of inter- 
communion, would figure in any survey of Christendom ; 
when that promise shall be realized the first step will 
have been taken toward a reunited Christendom. 

Our imaginary visitor from another planet, having 
summed up our condition, would take his leave. So 
dispassionate an analysis can indicate to us the road to be 
taken, but cannot inspire us to the effort of the journey. 
It can say : " Yes, your civilization, if it is not to tear 
itself to pieces in international and inter-class war, 
must recover its spiritual unity. Only religion can 
resolve your discords into order, and no non-Christian 
religion has touched the men of your race. You must 
restore the Universal Church or perish." But having 
said this, analysis must be silent, for it can give us 
neither the wisdom nor the fire needed for the task. 
These we must find for ourselves. Not even desire for 
the "benefits of unity can by itself heal our divisions ; 
a Christian order will return only through faithful 
obedience to the Master who in the night in which He 
was betrayed prayed for His followers that they all 
might be one. 



Suppose a man, seeing clearly the gravity of the 
issue, were to despair. He might say : Our culture is 



PEACE AND ORDER 253 

finished, the intellectual, artistic, and moral perversions 
knojvn as modernism have gone too far to be stopped. 
The swine's hoof of democracy must soon stamp the 
last fruits of our glorious inheritance down into the 
mud of barbarism. That done, it will remain only for 
the democrats to go on devouring each other by mass 
massacre, precisely as the sow gobbles up her own piglets. 
No doubt the scattered bodies of Christians are again 
drawing together,, but what of it ? Granted that 
Protestantism is turning sacramental, that Anglicanism 
is in a fair way to unite with Orthodoxy, granted that 
the Malines Conversations have shown that a resolute 
Pope resolved upon any sacrifice except that of conscience 
for the sake of unity, could make the dogma of Papal 
infallibility itself far less of a barrier than it now appears, 
all that is unimportant because Christianity is dying. 
Even if its separated Churches were to unite, they are 
too decrepit for their marriage to bring forth, children. 
European man is passing out of his Christian phase : 
no longer erect and observing the sky, he crouches over 
a test-tube in a laboratory, applying what is left of his 
intellect to the mere cataloguing of physical sequences, 
and waiting for some chance mob of proletarian robots, 
led by an atheist Jew boiling with ancestral hatred of 
Christian things, to come in and knock him on the head. 
The Christian Faith is only a lovely and sacred but 
defenceless tomb. Who shall call upon its dry bones 
to burst their coffins and live ? 

We of Christendom cannot make light of such a 
challenge. We well know that to-day the futilitarians 
sweep the field. As these lines are written a chance 
clipping announces that a prominent woman writer, a 
well-known contemporary critic, identifies soldiering 
with sadism. Yes, as I live by bread. So and so, she 
pitifully laments, " was a conscientious objector . . . 
these (war) years must have been a severe ordeal, for 



254 CAN WE LIMIT WAR? 

his repudiation of sadism was unsupported by membership 
in any political body with internationalist sympathies." 
By the Lord, 1914-1918 was a severer ordeal for the 
men that held the line. We have, indeed, travelled far 
when one whose favourite argument is to attribute 
perversion to those who have the honour to disagree 
with her, is allowed to insult the sacrifice of our 
dead. And yet her words express, only more nastily 
than is usual, a typical futilitarian idea heard every 
day. 

Nor can the Christian wrap himself in illusion 
concerning himself. He well knows that he has not 
only the shortcomings common to men, but also other 
weaknesses peculiar to himself as though he were the 
Devil's favourite target. The old practice of confession 
leaves a man little self-complacency. 

Nevertheless, we Christians can make answer : If 
we are not gods neither are we beasts. We are men. 
Free to choose whom we will serve, we would rather 
lose in a good cause than win under some idol even 
baser than we. If, indeed, Christendom must perish, 
if the Church be doomed to remain divided or to come 
together only in death, if the men of to-morrow will 
see in the universe only blind, mechanical force or 
meaningless delusion, at least these things shall happen 
only after our puny resistance has been crushed. For 
we ^re under the orders of a Captain who has commanded 
us to fight but has not promised victory. 

But though we have no promise of victory, neither 
can we be certain of coming defeat. Over and over 
again throughout Christian history the inevitable did 
not happen. After the hopeless despair of Good Friday 
the Church began with a resurrection from the dead, 
and ever since she has had the habit of rising from what 
seemed to be death. Why was the last and fiercest 
of the Roman persecutions followed by the triumph 



PEACE AND ORDER 255 

under Constantine ? In the worst of the Dark Ages 
whsjt inspired those desperate rallies that saved us from 
Saracen and Viking ? After the long agony of the 
Religious Wars, who doubted that the laughter of 
the polite eighteenth-century sceptics would blow out the 
last flickering altar candle ? Most astonishing of all, 
how comes it that our myriad divisions have not altogether 
destroyed the Faith ? Those who know the Church's 
long story of battle against odds, her stubborn endurance 
and her sweeping reconquests, will not soon expect 
her end. 

We or our sons may yet restore a Christian order. 
The momentary mood of tired cynicism will pass like 
any other, our fog of bewilderment and confusion will 
vanish, and better things will return as surely as morning 
and the clean nor-wester. For better things are normal 
to man. Courage and honour, although just now 
unfashionable, will not disappear ; there is something 
in us that answers to their drum beat, to the voice of 
Dr. Johnson rumbling : " Courage, sir, is not, strictly 
speaking, a Christian virtue, but without it a man 
is in danger of losing all the others," to Chesterton 
singing : 

" And I heard above bannerets blown the intolerant 

trumpets of honour, 

That usher with iron laughter the coming of Christian 
arms. 1 ' 

These high virtues of the soldier are not his alone, 
he does but cultivate that which in its own fashion 
supports honesty and self-respect ; every woman who 
has borne a child knows that there is something in 
courage, and every constant wife can tell the promise- 
breaking divorcees of the world that there is such a thing 

as honour. 

* * * * * 



256 CAN WE OMIT WAR? 

The Faith of our fathers was founded in reason. 
Because. the sword was the most effective of han^-to 
hand weapons they clothed it with ^glamour, making it 
the symbol not only of dominion but of order. Higher 
still, they made it a symbol of Faith, and the sword that 
shall establish our peace will have its blade straight 
and its hilt in the form of the cross.